A North Texas police department has a safety alert after a 68-year-old nurse was targeted by a convincing crook posing as a good Samaritan at a grocery store.
The victim of a brazen robbery is speaking out, hoping to help others stay alert.
Laurie is a 68-year-old NICU nurse. She asked NBC 5 not to use her full name out of safety concerns.
At around 8 p.m. on Nov. 11, she stopped by Whole Foods along Lemmon Avenue in Highland Park for a salad.
Still wearing her scrubs, Laurie returned to her car and was about to back out of her parking spot when she noticed a white SUV stopped behind her.
A man inside began yelling at her.
“He was just yelling through his window, 'Somebody hit your car!' And I thought, 'Oh, well this a good Samaritan trying to help me,'” she recalled. “So I got out of the car, walked around the back.”
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A good Samaritan, he was not.
“As I got around to the front passenger, he jumped out of his car and jumped in my car and took my purse and my iPhone,” she said.
In a rush to back to her still-opened door, the 68-year-old fell onto a cement block, leaving her face badly injured and bleeding.
The crook drove away and has not been caught.
“After it happened, I was like, 'Oh my word. I’m such a sucker. Why wasn’t I more cautious? Why did I even get out of my car?'” said Laurie.
Lt. Lance Koppa, spokesman for Highland Park Department of Public Safety, says the suspect’s urgent tone could have fooled anyone.
“Suspects that use this technique are very convincing, very believable,” said Koppa. “They will use all the right things to say just to you off-guard momentarily.”
Koppa says the crime is rare in Highland Park, but it can happen to anyone, anywhere.
Similar distraction-type techniques can turn you into a victim, inside or outside of a grocery store.
“Your handbag may be inside of the shopping cart and somebody may ask you, 'Hey, do you mind reading this label for me? I forgot my glasses,'” he said. “You help the person read the label, but there is another suspect reaching in and taking your wallet.”
So what should you do, should someone approach you with a similar story in a parking lot?
“A simple pause,” said Koppa. “Pick up your phone and call and say, 'Hey, somebody just pulled up in the parking lot and said my car’s been hit.'”
Koppa also urges shoppers to pay attention when walking to your car, try to not be on your cell phone.
Give your car a quick look to ensure the car is in the same condition as when you parked it, he added.
There is no surveillance video of the incident, according to police.
Highland Park DPS only has a vague description of the suspect after speaking with the victim and at least one witness.
The suspect got away with Laurie's Vera Bradley purse and iPhone 8, but she actually had her wallet in her pocket.
When the man saw her injured and bleeding he asked her, "Are you OK?" Before driving away.
That tells Laurie, “That he’s not a bad person… But he’s somebody down on his luck and needing money.”
Fortunately, this frontline worker is recovering after undergoing surgery for a broken nose and injury to her forehead.
Laurie also sustained a concussion in the fall.
She wants everyone to exercise caution and learn from her innocent mistake.
“I just want other people to know that anywhere, this could happen to you. And it was something so easy to fall for,” she said.
Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to call Detective Nance at 214-559-9306.