ST. PETE (FOX 13) - Police are investigating after a woman's wallet was snatched off an outdoor table at a restaurant along Beach Drive by a group of kids claiming they were collecting money for an at-risk youth program.
Police are warning the charity scam may just be a ploy to see if people have cash on them so the suspects can target them minutes later and steal their wallet.
Police are now reviewing surveillance video showing a group of young kids on bicycles riding long Beach Drive Tuesday afternoon in St. Pete. Alexa Martin says the kids in the video are the same ones who conned her out $5 for a fake charity and then snatched her wallet.
"They had a little flyer," Martin said. "I looked at the flyer. I thought, 'Oh, that's cute. A little 13-year-old or 14-year-old kid trying to stay out of violence.' I was like 'I can help out,' so I gave him $5 dollars. He left. Five minutes later another friend came up."
Before she could tell the other friend she had already donated to the cause, he snatched her wallet right off the table.
"A big group of kids were waiting," Martin said. "There was like 16 or 20 kids all in the alley all on bicycles waiting for him. They all just jumped on bikes and took off."
He took off down an alley. Martin chased after him and so did others nearby who saw it happen, but the kids got away.
According to Police, they ditched her wallet nearby. Police found it with everything inside, except for Martin's $400 in cash.
"People give them money so they can see if they have cash," Martin said. "And the second they pull their cash out, they obviously figure out if you have cash in your wallet and then snatch it."
Employees at the restaurant where it happened, didn't want to go on camera but did say the same group of kids has been hanging around the last few weeks, asking for people to donate money to a program for at-risk youth.
"Don't leave your wallet on the table," Martin said. "Don't bring a high amount of cash. Try and use a card if you can, because at least you can cancel that if they try and charge it."
Martin was just on her way to the bank to deposit that cash when she stopped for lunch. Especially now during the holidays, police are warning everyone to be extra cautious of your surroundings because they see more of these types of crimes around this time of year.
If you know anything that could help track down the suspects, call St. Pete Police.