The local police, in Detroit, are in pursuit of the ‘Mad hatters', a five or six member gang of middle-aged women blamed for a string of robberies, purse snatching and fraud.
These suspects typically steal women's wallets or purses. Shortly afterward, the credit cards and checks are used at stores to buy merchandise or at banks to get cash.
Surveillance photographs obtained by police show the suspects as middle-aged to elderly women wearing hats, usually of the floppy, fisherman kind, at the time of the incidents.
The police are puzzled by the organized nature of the crimes. "Seldom are there these organized rings doing it, such as this one," Sterling Heights police Lt. Luke Riley said.
The incidents began about a year ago and the most recent incident occurred on Feb. 15, when a woman was shopping at the Target store on Metropolitan Parkway while an elderly woman stood next to her. After stooping to retrieve some coupons she had dropped, the shopper discovered her purse open, and an envelope containing $140 missing.
According to a press release from the Sterling Heights Police Department., the total value of merchandise and cash stolen could be as high as $500,000, police said. The women stole almost $200,000 from one bank.
The evidence tying them together is the headgear. With middle-aged women in caps of blue, black and white, shoppers, banks and retailers tend not to suspect them as cold-hearted crooks.
‘Mad Hatters’, in their 70’s, captured by surveillance cameras