WASHINGTON - Fairfax County Police are issuing a warning and asking for the public's help in identifying thieves targeting elderly people as they come in and out of the hospital.
According to police, as the victim goes into or leaves the hospital, one person strikes up a conversation with them. While the victim is distracted and not fully aware of their belongings, a second person pickpockets them.
The thieves then take off with the victim's wallet and immediately start spending on stolen credit cards.
"It's shameful, but that is why they are targeting the elderly," explained Kent Bailey with the Fairfax County Police Department. "They are an easier target than say a young person who may be more aware of their surroundings."
After several reports to Fairfax County police, investigators found out this has been going on since April - and in other communities too.
Police released photos of three suspects who have stolen from at least four people so far.
Authorities have not identified which facilities have been targeted, citing the ongoing investigation. The locations are only described as "large medical offices" and detectives think there could be more victims out there.
If you think you are a victim or you have a tip for authorities, you are asked to call 703-644-7377.
Police are advising people with elderly family members accompany them to appointments or make sure they are with someone they trust. People traveling alone should keep all their personal items in front pockets and make sure their bag closes securely (with a zipper for example).
As always, report any suspicious activity to authorities immediately.