11:55 AM EDT, August 7, 2013
Anne Arundel County police say two Upper Marlboro residents have been arrested in a series of theft and fraud cases in which they allegedly distracted female shoppers in local grocery stores, then took their wallets and credit cards.
Police arrested Karen Steelman, 52, and Kenneth Harris, 53, and charged them with numerous theft and credit card fraud offenses.
Police said they are both suspected in similar "distraction" theft cases in Washington, Virginia and North Carolina.
The county's investigation started with two reports in which a man and woman distracted shoppers, then took their wallets. Stolen credit cards were later used at retail establishments to make fraudulent purchases.
Photos of suspects were sent throughout the region to various outlets, and the Montgomery County Police Department helped Anne Arundel investigators identify Steelman and Harris as suspects.
Through a search warrant at their Upper Marlboro residence, more than $50,000 in merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards was recovered. Several credit cards, IDs and two handguns were also recovered, police said. Police said they believe Steelman may have been involved in a total of six cases in Anne Arundel County dating to February 2012.
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