Man Convicted Of Stealing Wallets From Elderly Women - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man Convicted Of Stealing Wallets From Elderly Women

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A man who went into San Diego County supermarkets and stole wallets from the purses of at least 11 elderly women over a five-month period was convicted today of several dozen felony counts, including burglary and grand theft.

Todd Laroune Gay, 42, faces up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced June 12 by Superior Court Judge Desiree Bruce-Lyle.

Jurors deliberated 2 1/2 hours after a four-day trial, convicting Gay of 11 counts of burglary and 32 counts of grand theft, theft and petty theft.

The defendant has theft and drug-related convictions dating to 1988 and has been to prison five times, said Deputy District Attorney Dan Link.

The prosecutor said Gay would use a shopping cart to bump elderly women and distract them so he could take their wallets from their purses, which were usually in the child seat of their cart. He would leave the store without buying anything.

All the crimes occurred between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and all of the victims were 65 or older, he said, adding that the oldest was 81.

Gay -- who was always nicely dressed -- was caught on eight of 11 store cameras, and four showed him taking wallets, the prosecutor said. Most of the victims didn't notice their pocketbook missing until they got to the cash register, Link said.

Losses totaled about $3,000, and ranged from $40 to $800 per theft, he said. Only two wallets were recovered, Link said.

Aside from cash, victims lost irreplaceable photos.

"It's the memories that are priceless," Link said after the verdict was handed down.

Link said the wallet-snatching spree, which lasted from May to September last year, serves as a good warning for women to watch their purses while in supermarkets.

After the last theft in September, a bank employee recognized Gay as being in a Vons store on Fletcher Parkway three weeks earlier and wrote down the defendant's license plate number, Link said.

Authorities were able to track Gay to his South Bay home and found a rack of clothing in a closet that matched some apparel he was seen wearing in the surveillance videos, the prosecutor said.

Gay's attorney told the jury that a police lineup containing his client's photo was unduly suggestive.

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