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New photos released of suspects who used child in distraction thefts

Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 18:31:40-05

The Collier County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help in identifying two suspects - a man and a woman - who investigators believe used a child to help them steal cash from a store in East Naples. They believe the same couple is behind another theft in Estero, in which the suspects told a child as young as five or six to steal a ring worth $57,000.

The East Naples theft happened October 8 at the GameStop store near Collier Boulevard and Interstate 75. Detectives say a woman with a child distracted the store clerk, while the man who was with them removed $540 from the cash register.

"I used to work retail, so it's kind of a scary thing," said shopper Ann Stern. "You're distracted for a second and they steal from you."

Investigators believe the same couple also stole the ring from the Saks Fifth Avenue store at Miromar Outlets in Estero on October 12. According to a Lee County Sheriff's report, this time it was the male suspect who distracted the jewelry clerk, while the woman had a boy, who appears to be 5 or 6, take the ring from the jewelry case.

"I just hope and pray that this child's story ends up okay," said shopper Donna Noonan. "And that this kid has the opportunity to grow up and know that that's not how life has to be."

Anyone who recognizes the man or woman in the surveillance photos is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.