Crime & Courts

Anatomy of a Wichita debit card theft

(File photo)
(File photo) File photo

The crime: While a 79-year-old Wichita woman was giving another woman a ride, it appears the rider stole her debit card from her purse. Someone then used the card at several west-side businesses.

Wichita police Sgt. Santiago Hungria gave this account Wednesday: The 79-year-old gave a woman a ride from Central and West streets. Later, the 79-year-old’s bank called to inform her of unusual transactions in which someone was using her debit card. The card was used to buy things from at least three businesses at Towne West Square. Once the woman learned her debit card was being used by someone else, she reported it to Wichita police Tuesday night.

Hungria, a supervisor in the financial crimes unit, said he hadn’t seen a similar case recently.

Victimology: A crime like this can go unreported “because of embarrassment, because they can’t believe they’ve been tricked by somebody,” Hungria said. But the victims shouldn’t feel embarrassed, he said. “It can happen to anybody.”

What the crime says: “It’s just sad when somebody takes advantage of someone’s generosity,” he said.

Amount of theft: Almost $500. It’s common for debit- or credit-card thieves to rack up purchases quickly. They know it’s a matter of time before the card is discovered stolen, Hungria said.

How to prevent it: Be cautious about giving someone a ride. And if you do try to help someone, keep your purse or other valuables securely by you, Hungria advised. You could have mail or other items easily accessible in your vehicle that could lead to identity theft.

“It’s the little things that people don’t realize they have lying around in their cars,” he said.

Questions: Anyone with questions about how to prevent being a victim can call the Wichita police financial crimes unit at 316-268-4193.

Tim Potter: 316-268-6684, @terporter