P.G. County gas station thefts, suspect in white SUV

BOWIE, Md. (WJLA) -- Watch closely as the crime plays out. On the left, a woman pumps gas. On the right, a man emerges from a white car before crouching on his tip-toes to open her door and steal her belongings.

The victim doesn’t even know what is happening, so he does it again to someone else at the same Bowie Safeway gas station back on September 6. He grabs what appears to be a red purse.

"It only takes those three or four seconds for the suspect to approach, open your car, and remove items of value," says Prince George’s Police Lieutenant Bill Alexander. He adds that everyone needs to be aware of the ongoing danger.

On a security video exclusive to ABC7, a white car backs in next to a pump on Sunday around noon at the Sunoco on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park. A man emerges and opens the passenger side door of the SUV. He grabs his loot, then drives away.

Sunoco customer Renee Lee says it happened to a friend of hers:

"He took her purse...She didn't even notice until she got home."

Police say the crooks are counting on that distraction and the ambient noise around the pumps to slip in and out unnoticed. But you needn’t become a victim, because these brazen criminals can easily be defeated.

"Lock your car even if you're standing next to it," says Lieutenant Alexander. "Just be really be conscious of your surroundings."