Recent pick pocket capers have police cautioning about the holiday season

At least one team of purse-dippers was working together
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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Busy store aisles and crowded sales floors are frequent sights in Roseville at Christmas time, but police warn that theft and robbery cases in the last few weeks prove residents should be vigilant during “the most wonderful time of the year.”

The level of stealth pick-pocketing criminals often use was evident at a Roseville grocery store on Nov. 1, when a security guard caught sight of a two-man team trying to steal from unsuspecting shoppers. According to Roseville Police Department’s spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther, the guard quietly watched one of the alleged thieves strolling up to customers in a friendly manner to make small talk while his partner would sneak up close to the woman’s purse. The security guard saw what he believed were several failed attempts to take items from different shoppers.

Finally, the two alleged thieves were successful in grabbing items from a woman in the grocery store. Seeing a crime committed, the security guard grabbed one of the suspects as Roseville police were called to the scene. The alleged thief, 29-year-old Lance Holder, then engaged in a fight with the security guard.

“The security officer struggled with him and managed to detain him until police units arrived,” Gunther said. “Since Mr. Holder fought with security in the course of committing the theft, his booking charge was upgraded to robbery.”

In addition to robbery, Holder is also being charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and committing felony while out on bail for a pending felony charge.

In late October, a Roseville resident was shopping in a different store in the city and realized, as she exited, that her cell phone and coin purse had been lifted from her purse. Gunther said that the approach of the holiday season, when stores are thick with distraction, means shoppers need to have a heightened awareness.

“The holiday season doesn’t just mean more shoppers, it also means more thieves are out in stores,” Gunther said. “Shoppers should know what’s happening in their surroundings, keep their purse close and have a hand on it at all times. If a stranger tries to engage you in conversation, you can choose to talk to them, but keep your attention up.”