Hawaiʻi Island police are again warning shoppers not to leave handbags unattended in shopping carts.

Police have received several recent reports of elderly female shoppers who had purses removed from shopping carts at various stores in Hilo while the shoppers were distracted. The thefts are being actively investigated.

Lieutenant Gregory Esteban from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section said it only takes seconds for someone to snatch a bag out of a cart while the shopper is distracted.

“We are advising women to keep their handbags on their person while out in public to avoid being a target of theft,” Esteban said. “Often, the theft of a handbag can lead to additional crimes, such as unauthorized use of a credit card and identity theft.”

Police encourage anyone who is the victim of a purse snatching to report it immediately by calling the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.