Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Syracuse police are warning local stores to secure their money and stay alert to distraction con artists. A Syracuse Vietnamese grocery store lost $38,000 to a group of nine men and women in what police are calling an orchestrated scheme that was all caught on tape. It happened Saturday afternoon at the A Chau Grocery Store, located at 936 North Salina Street.
In the video it appears the group is doing some shopping -- and some shoplifting. They take their time milling about the store before making their next big move – getting the clerk to leave the register. That’s where police say they discovered an unsecured bag filled with money and checks. Police say the checks were from immigrant families in Syracuse who were planning to send them to Vietnam.
Police call them distraction thieves and they swiftly move into a store to steal whatever they can.
“You see them come in, almost search the store to see if anyone else is in there and they start distracting [the clerk],” said Syracuse Police Sgt. Tom Connellan. “When they get her into the isle, they block her in and unfortunately in this particular instance, they score big.”
Officials say there was $38,000 in both cash and checks in an unsecured money bag that was under the register.
“These are people who could be staying in a local hotel. They might be staying here in town; by town I mean they might be going out to Camillus, or another suburb, people need to take a very good look at this and store clerks too. They might be the next target,” said Sgt. Connellan.
If you can help police identify the people seen in the surveillance video call Syracuse Police at 442-5222.