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A Lesson in How Seemingly Obvious Theft Can Be Successful

By Olivia Leigh in News on Dec 12, 2006 5:30PM

Although iPods have been hot commodities for years, moving from the hands of in-the-know hipsters to soccer moms, they continue to be as popular as ever, making their way onto gift lists…and thieves’ shopping carts.

At Target stores in Colorado, California and at the North Elston outpost in the city, small teams of thieves have been snagging the portable music and video players from locked electronics cases.2006_12_ipod.jpg

When we first heard this, we were a bit confused as to how thieves managed to open the locks or break through the glass of the cases during shopping hours, when at least a few shoppers or employees were bound to be milling around.

But then we remember the most inconspicuous way to conceal your dirty deed in a public area ... a shopping cart with large items and a held-up towel, of course. According to an article in the Denver Post, police say two men would enter and load up shopping carts with large items, convening in the electronics section with one more man. Investigator Greg Neal of Jefferson County, Colo., said one thief would then break into the glass cases as two accomplices held up a beach towel to conceal the crime when customers walked past.

Maybe we have different shopping standards than you do, but surely an unfurled beach towel in the electronics section is a bit suspicious, especially when it’s held by two men around another. We can’t begin to imagine how this “towel method” has succeeded in not just one Target store, but in a handful across the country, making off with hundreds of iPods.

Fortunately, the thieves may be singing a sadder tune soon, as one suspect, Ipolito Torres of Van Nuys, Calif., has been indicted by a Denver grand jury on 18 counts. In the meantime, be on the lookout for towels in Target’s aisles, as people may be doing more than checking out the plushness of an Isaac Mizrahi or the length of a Thomas O'Brien.