The victims are women, and the targets are purses left unattended in vehicles, shopping carts or a restaurant, police authorities say.
Seven such incidents were reported to deputy sheriffs since Nov. 18.
XTC "It only takes a second for a thief to get his Christmas present," said Dfc. DeWayne Curry, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office. The recent incidents:
* Someone stole a Havre de Grace woman's wallet while she was shopping at a grocery store in the 3400 block of Emmorton Road in Abingdon on Nov. 20. The loss was valued at $244.
* A Bel Air woman said a purse-shaped box was stolen from her vehicle parked in the 200 block of Jackson Blvd. in Bel Air on Nov. 22. The box contained a Bible, wallet and sunglasses.
* Someone broke into an Edgewood woman's vehicle parked Nov. 22 in the 900 block of Joppa Farm Road in Joppatowne and took her purse containing money, checkbook and watch. The loss was valued at $359.
* A Bel Air woman reported that she lost or someone stole her purse while she was at a restaurant in the 1800 block of Edgewood Road in Edgewood on Nov. 24.
* Someone entered a Havre de Grace woman's car parked in the 2100 block of Pulaski Highway Nov. 24 and stole her purse containing two wallets, personal identification and money. The loss was valued at $582.
* Someone entered a Jarrettsville woman's car parked in the 1100 block of Baldwin Mill Road Nov. 24 and stole her purse.
* An Edgewood woman told deputies someone stole her purse in the 2000 block of Cherry Road on Nov. 18. The loss was valued at $40.