FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth Police say they're searching for two young women who were caught on camera stealing a wallet.
It was shaping up to be a memorable night for Mari Villa and her mom Rachelle Edwards.
"Mother daughter night," Villa said. "We went to the Kimbell [Art Museum]."
It turned out to be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
"It was scary," Villa said of their experience. "It's brazen. It's violating."
The mom-daughter duo decided to eat at the bar at Heim Barbecue on Fort Worth's popular Magnolia Avenue. But security video shows where it all went wrong.
"You can see the two girls standing pretty close to my mom," Villa said as she watched the video with WFAA Monday. Two young women had been standing very close to their backs for about five minutes, Villa said, but she says she and her mother assumed they were waiting to order.
At one point, Edwards looks right at them and turns back towards the bar, ready to order. Moments later, video shows one girl dip her hand into Edwards' purse and take her wallet. They then bolted. Edwards did too, confronting them. One woman went out the back door, the other out the front.
"So even though you could see it clearly occur on camera, the wallet was not recovered," said FWPD Officer Brad Perez, who couldn't comment on whether the wallet was passed off to another individual or perhaps tossed away when the women realized they were being chased.
Villa said each of the women said, "I don't have anything" when asked.
Fort Worth police are now on the case. It's a case similar to those in recent years, where purses and wallets are snatched from the backs of chairs in restaurants and bars. That's where Edwards' was.
“From our perspective as owners, this is devastating to think that someone would have the audacity to walk into a business and so blatantly steal from a guest," Travis Heim said. "We do everything we can to make sure our guests have the best experience possible which includes providing excellent food, in the most welcoming, inclusive, fun environment possible. And for someone to steal from a guest like what happened in the video, is shocking and violating.”
The thieves visited at least one other Magnolia establishment. The owner of Lili's Bistro said the women came in before heading to Heim and asked specifically for a table near a lot of people. However, he does not believe any of his customers got hit.
Police do have some good tips on how to protect yourself from crimes like these. First, they say to remember the more people that are around, the more opportunity there is for people to steal your things. Next, if you can't see your items, then they are not safe. And finally, never assume. Just because you might personally feel safe in an environment, doesn't mean your property is.
"They have purse hooks and unfortunately it lapsed my mind," Villa said of Heim's bar, adding that the Heim management were extremely helpful in the moments after.
Villa said her mother lost hundreds of dollars in cash and gift cards. She shares their story so this doesn't happen to you — and so the women get caught.
"We blame ourselves to a certain extent, like-- we shouldn’t have had it there," Villa said of the purse being on the left open on the back of the chair. "But it doesn’t give them the right to steal. Did we make it easy for them? Yes. Will it ever happen again for us? No."