Publix snatch-and-grabs may not be related, police say

Back on November 15, police say two women snatched a 75-year-old's wallet from her pocketbook while she shopped at a Publix in St. Petersburg, then hightailed it out of the store, going on to spend thousands in electronics and gift cards.

Then on November 23, inside a Publix on North Dale Mabry, a very similar scene played out. Hillsborough deputies say two women worked together to steal a victim's wallet.

"One of the women here distracted the individual who had her purse in the shopping cart," said HCSO spokesperson Amanda Granit. "So while that shopper was distracted by the one suspect, the other suspect reached into her purse and grabbed a wallet. And then the two suspects ran out of the store."

Deputies say the women tried to use the credit cards at an area Best Buy and Target, but were unsuccessful.

In both cases, the women have yet to be identified.

And despite the similarities, investigators in Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg say it's too early say if it’s the same two women in both cases.

"The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is aware of the incident that happened in the same time-frame in St. Petersburg, and we're working with the police out there," Granit said. "But at this time we're not able to say that they are connected."

The two suspected wallet thieves from the November 15 crime.

Sandra Bentil with St. Petersburg police told FOX 13 that investigators don't believe the two women in their case are the same as HCSO's case. 

"Things could change, but right now, just looking at the photos and video, they don’t seem to bear any resemblance to each other," Bentil said. 

Deputies say it's the holiday season, and lots of thieves are searching for crimes of opportunity. 

"We're just asking everyone to take a little bit of a double-check with your surroundings, and make sure your bag is zipped up, and things can't be grabbed easily from your cart," Granit added.

Authorities want the public to take a hard look at these images so the suspects can be identified and brought to justice.