CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — An inter-state scheme is targeting older women trying to grocery shop in Clarksburg, police told 12 News Friday.

According to the Clarksburg Police Department, shoppers are being asked to stay alert due to a suspected multiple-state theft ring taking information from victims at the East Point Kroger on Emily Drive in Clarksburg.

Officer said that victims, usually elderly females, are being targeted by individuals who will use team tactics to take wallets from their purses. One individual will distract the victim, usually by asking a question, while another individual takes the victim’s wallet from purses that are sitting in shopping carts, officers said.

The subjects will then use the victims’ credit and debit cards to instantly purchase gift cards, which officers said are being redeemed in states as far away as California, and there appear to be multiple groups performing these theft operations, according to police officials.

In at least one instance, a woman’s information was used to take out multiple new credit cards which were shipped to an out-of-state address, officers said. That was at least one of the instances where identity theft was reported stemming from these theft incidents, according to law enforcement.

So far, officers have stated that large financial losses exceeding $40,000 have been incurred by victims of these incidents, officers said.

Officers ask that the public be wary and protect themselves from possible theft by securing wallets and/or purses in a safe location or keeping purchase cards and identifying information on their person at all times; anyone with information about these thefts is asked to contact the Clarksburg Police Department at 304-624-1610.