SHARONVILLE, OH (FOX19) - Police officers in several area cities are hunting down a woman they believe is at the center of a crime spree with connections to communities across the Tri-State.
Police believe the woman goes to local parks, waits for the right moment, and then pulls a "smash and grab" by breaking car windows and taking off with what she can.
Professional photographer Heather Beckman and her client Jennifer Kidder said they were victimized on Sunday morning at Sharon Woods. Both their cars were locked at the time, and Kidder said she even hid her purse under a blanket. They stepped away from their vehicles for a few minutes to complete part of their photo shoot. When they returned to their vehicles about 10 minutes later, both of their cars had windows smashed out.
"With how quickly it happened, she had to have been hanging out and watching us," Beckman said.
Both of their purses and Beckman's camera bag were gone.
"Learn from my mistake, and make sure you take your valuables with you," Beckman said.
According to police, Beckman and Kidder are just two of many victims. Another man said the same thing happened to his family the same day while they were at Parky's Farm. Others reported similar incidents.
"Shocking. Didn't sleep very well last night," Beckman said. "Makes you nervous."
So far, investigators said that their evidence connects the woman to break-ins in parks in Hamilton, Warren, and Butler counties. The leads they have received link her to bogus buys at businesses in Sharonville, West Chester, Madeira, Oakley, Indian Hill, and Newport, Ky. They're encouraging the community to watch out, and they suspect the woman in question has had help from accomplices.
"I'd be more than happy when they are caught to press charges personally because my family and I are really paying the price financially for as much as they got us for," Kidder said.
Police said the woman they are looking for drives a silver or gray Acura with tinted windows and out-of-state license plates.
Investigators said that to protect yourself from becoming a victim, you should always lock your car doors and never leave anything of value inside, even if you think it's hidden. In Indian Hill, officers are now even leaving notes on the windshields of cars when they spot something inside the vehicle, to remind the driver to take extra precautions.