San Francisco police search for thief who targets the vulnerable

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco police are looking for a pickpocket who targets elderly and disabled women on Muni.

Police say the suspect was caught on camera on Saturday, stealing the wallet of 69-year-old Karen Sellers.

Sellers, who uses a scooter, was on the 5 Fulton line, and says she was suspicious of the thief almost immediately.

She said he was holding a jacket over his arm, and repeatedly bumped her with that jacket on the ride.

When the bus stopped near McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue, he made his move. "Stage a fall directly on top of me, pinning me to the chair doing what he had to," said Sellers. "I yelled right away, he got out the back door and I looked down and my purse was wide open and I said 'thief.'"

The suspect got away with Seller's wallet with several credit cards. Police said the cards were used within minutes, and say the theft was the work of a serial pickpocket.

Officer Carlos Manfredi from the San Francisco police department calls the thief a coward, for targeting the most vulnerable passengers.

"When the bus stops this coward makes an effort to deliberately fall into her, uses his jacket to cover her purse, unzip her purse then reaches and pulls out her wallet," said Manfredi.

Manfredi said the suspect appears to use Muni to travel the city, targeting elderly and disabled women on specific bus lines. "This suspect has been doing this on the Muni 5 line, and on the Muni 38 line, and he likes to visit the downtown corridor of San Francisco," said Manfredi.

Police say so far the suspect has not used violence to steal from his victims, but police are urging anyone who spots him to not take the law into their own hands. Instead, officers urge passengers to notify the driver or call the police if they spot him.