Police arrest two in wallet-snatching spree

Two women taken into custody in Walmart parking lot

Police arrested two women last week in connection with a string of thefts of wallets from inside the Mountain View Walmart at 600 Showers Drive.

Jennifer Chavarin and Jeannette Montiel-Galvan were taken into custody in the Walmart parking lot and charged with burglary, credit card fraud, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy, according to Liz Wylie, spokeswoman for the Mountain View Police Department.

In September police saw an increase in reports of stolen wallets from women who said their pocketbooks were taken from them while they shopped at Walmart, Wylie said. The cases were all very similar: a woman would leave her purse unattended in a cart while she shopped; her wallet (and in some cases other personal belongings) would be taken from her purse; then, in many instances, her credit card would be used immediately afterward in the Walmart or at the Target across the street.

After reviewing surveillance footage, police identified Chavarin, 28, of San Jose as one of two suspects, Wylie said. Officers requested a warrant for the arrest of Chavarin, but before it could be issued, the two women struck again.

"While the warrant request was being reviewed by the District Attorney's office, officers continually checked the Walmart parking lot and store for signs of Chavarin or her accomplice," Wylie wrote in a press release. As it turned out, Chavarin was spotted by police in the Walmart parking lot on Oct. 28. She was with Montiel-Galvan, 41, of San Jose.

While talking with police, the women tried to hide a wallet underneath a nearby car, Wylie said. The wallet did not belong to either woman, and police determined it had been stolen within the hour and that the women had already tried to use a credit card they found in the wallet. They also had multiple stolen ID cards, fraudulently purchased gift cards and "personal items likely belonging to other victims."

Chavarin and Montiel-Galvan were arrested and booked into the county jail, Wylie said. Detectives and police are still investigating the matter, as it is unclear exactly how many people were victimized by the suspects.

Wylie advised that no one leave a purse unattended while shopping in any store.

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Like this comment
Posted by don't get it
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

I just don't get why people go shopping, put their purse in the cart and browse the store, leaving their carts unattended. I have walked by many unattended purses at nice stores, nice grocery stores, and the big box stores like Walmart and don't people get it... there are just people itching to take your stuff as soon as you lose sight of your purse! Please - watch your stuff....

By the way, Walmart is not a place to be leaving your wallet/purse unatttended. I have called MV police before to report theft inside the store and I was told that Walmart Loss Prevention was not working that particular night... what??? I was asked to do a citizen's arrest... crazy.

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