BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Police believe a 21-year-old woman and a 17-year-old male are behind a series of purse snatchings in Bloomington.

Investigators said the pair sometimes distracted their victims, took their purses and then used their credit cards to make expensive purchases.

Charges against Raven Russell include multiple counts of theft and fraud. The 17-year-old, whose name is being withheld because he’s a juvenile, faces similar charges.

Police caught the pair on Monday, Dec. 12, at the Bloomington Walmart after receiving a tip from employees who’d spotted them at the store. The duo visited the location frequently after their thefts and had been alerted to look out for them, police said.

When police asked Russell if she had any idea why they’d shown up at the store, she replied, “The purses,” according to court documents. She also mentioned some stolen checks.

Police described Russell as “cooperative and forthcoming” in their subsequent interview, telling police she’d taken money and credit cards from people to “support her drug addiction.”

Police believe she and the teen are connected to several purse snatchings in the Bloomington area from Nov. 23 through Dec. 7, according to court documents.

During the Nov. 23 incident, an 82-year-old woman said a young man approached her in the Walmart parking lot and asked if he could use her phone. While they were talking, a young woman ran by and grabbed her purse. The pair got into a silver Ford and took off.

Russell told police she remembered the case and admitted to “spending the cash” before throwing the purse out the window, according to court documents.

On Nov. 28, one of Russell’s family members noticed several checks missing from his checkbook and said the bank contacted him about a suspicious attempt to cash a $350 check. A check for $800 had been cashed just hours before, the bank said.

During her interview with police, Russell told investigators she’d taken the checks and signed them so the 17-year-old could cash them. One was successfully cashed, she said, while a second attempt was unsuccessful, according to court documents.

On Dec. 4, a Kroger shopper was loading groceries into her car; her purse was placed in the part of the cart where a child would sit. She had her hand on top of the purse and felt a sudden tug; two people ran by with her purse. She didn’t get a good look at the perpetrators or their car.

The woman later received an email that someone named “Raven Russell” had requested $450 from her on Venmo. Within a week of the Kroger theft, police were “investigating six other thefts where a male and female grabbed someone’s purse and ran away with it.” Investigators said Russell and the teen were also suspected of similar thefts in Bedford.

On Dec. 5, the pair struck at an Aldi store in Bloomington, police said. A woman was shopping in a clothing aisle when a young man asked her what kind of pants he should get his mother. She offered some suggestions and then noticed he began walking away from her. She saw her purse was gone and believed the man was responsible because of his strange behavior. Surveillance video showed a woman, believed to be Russell, had grabbed the purse while the teen distracted the victim.

The woman then noticed some fraudulent charges on her accounts; all were from Walmart. Police believe the pair went to the store after the theft and made purchases for $459.03, $319.93 and $157.57; all three happened while the woman and her husband attempted to cancel the stolen cards.

On Dec. 7, a woman was shopping at a Dollar General store. She said a young man had approached and asked her for advice on a gift for his mother. He led her away from her cart and when they returned, she realized her purse was gone. Surveillance footage later showed Russell was the culprit, police said, with the teen once again serving as the distraction.

Soon, the woman noticed fraudulent purchases at Big Lots and McDonald’s. Someone used her card at Walmart to make purchases of $426.93 and 459.03, although a third transaction for $515.05 had been declined.

Because the suspects had gone to the Walmart before, police made their way over there. They were unable, however, to locate the pair at that time; officers believe they missed them by about five minutes.

Walmart employees showed investigators surveillance footage in which the pair bought expensive speaker equipment from the electronics section before attempting to return it for cash at the front of the store.

Employees then alerted police when the pair returned to the store on Dec. 12, leading to their capture.