Fairfax smash-and-grab crimes target mothers

(WJLA) - Stephanie Whalen was only gone for 30 minutes before she realized that this is what the back window of her car looked like.

“We had issues at that field before, so I was cognizant of that,” she said. “I put my purse on the floor and my son’s backpack over top of it and the viola, so when I came back out and it was gone, I was like, ‘I shouldn’t have put it down there.’”

Whalen says she walked her son out to the baseball field for practice at Clermont Park in Fairfax, when someone smashed her window and snatched her purse out of her car.

“I talked to the cop about it and he said, ‘You shouldn’t worry about it too much because clearly someone was watching you when you walked out from the car.’”

Whalen says it didn’t take long before the thief started charging her credit cards just a couple of miles down the street at a Redbox location.

“They charged on five credit cards, but it was more the hassle – I had nothing, and for the first time, I had to go to the gas station and I had no money to pay for gas…I had cash and I don’t know the last time I pumped $5 for gas.”

Fairfax County Police say there have been about a dozen cases in the last six months in random parking lots, parks, schools, and churches. In some of these cases, police say women are hiding their purses under blankets or keeping them out of view in their cars – much like Whalen did that day. But none of it seems to matter to these thieves.

“I feel very violated, because I was smart enough to know to hide it – yet still, someone was watching me,” said Whalen.