Thieves target cars outside daycares and preschools in East Valley

Posted at 1:30 PM, Sep 21, 2016

Police have arrested two suspects connected to multiple car thefts around the Valley.

According to police, Lerin Dionne Wells and Heather Ann Kline stole credit cards from cars parked outside of daycare centers and preschools in Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler, and Scottsdale between July and August.

The two would survey cars parked in lots and then steal wallets from open cars. Court records show they collectively spent over on $5,500 worth of merchandise with the stolen cards, mostly from Fry’s store, and on one occasion, at Casino Arizona in Scottsdale. 

“I just can't believe it,” said parent Ashley Ratcliff, who’s child attends the Tempe preschool where cars were targeted. “We're in 2016 and our daycares are getting hit up?”

The preschool that fell victim to the crimes posted an alert on their window, reminding parents to please lock up their cars and hide their valuables.

“I'm used to leaving my purse in here or my phone in here,” Ratcliff. said. “I check my kids in and I'm out in five minutes.”

Gilbert police obtained a search warrant and were able to place a GPS tracker on Kline’s vehicle after getting reports of similar incidents from Chandler police.

Police say that within nine minutes of burglarizing the cars they were making their first transactions with the stolen credit cards.

“These are not crimes of opportunity,” police said. “Rather the suspects were observed preparing to commit the offenses by removing the license plates from their vehicle and conducting surveillance of the target location until a victim presented themselves."

And it's not just daycares. New surveillance video from 20th Street and Camelback Road shows a man going down the line, breaking into car after car at an apartment complex.

And Prescott authorities are still looking for three suspects accused of breaking into cars and stealing credit cards from hikers at White Spar Campground.

Kline and Wells, both 31,  turned themselves in on September 15th and have been charged with fraudulent schemes.