Fairfield police have identified one of two women who are wanted for distracting victims at libraries and small businesses, and stealing their wallets and credit cards.
Fairfield police also have solid leads on a second suspect.
There are no arrests yet, but police in numerous towns are now reviewing their cases and arrests are expected soon, according to Fairfield Police.
The women showed up at the Fairfield Public Library on Tuesday and started questioning workers and acting suspiciously, said police. Workers recognized the women from surveillance photos circulated by an East Haven librarian. They called police.
By the time police arrived at the library, the women had already left empty-handed.
In a stroke of luck, they returned after they realized one of them left a cell phone behind, said police. Police questioned one of the women, and detained her at the station until her brother arrived to identify her, they said. The other left the library before police could talk to her.
Cynthia Gwiazda, a librarian at the Hagaman Memorial Library in East Haven, believes her wallet was stolen by the same women when she left her office unattended in June. Police provided her with surveillance photos from their shopping spree. Once she realized she wasn't the only victim, she emailed the photos to libraries around the state, which put workers at the Fairfield library on alert. "I'm just glad to be able to help catch them in any way possible," she said.
Similar crimes have happened at libraries and small businesses in at least nine cities and towns, although police believe the crime spree is likely much larger.
Among the other victims: a worker at the Plainville Public Library, a worker at the Farmington Public Library, and Kaitlyn Larson, the owner of Larson's Garden Center in Farmington. The women took cash bags from her office and a credit card from her purse, she said. "I'm surprised that they would have the audacity to do that. It's a smart crime in a way but it's very stupid. They're gonna get caught," said Larson.