Police seek help tracking slick 'Bluetooth bandit’

He looks like a clean-cut, on-the-go businessman wanting a cup of Joe.

But police say the slick suit is a professional crook who has been snatching credit cards from purses at coffee shops citywide.

Cops are hunting the robber — dubbed the “Bluetooth bandit” — in connection with nearly a dozen thefts of credit cards and other items from purses at coffee shops and restaurants in the Marina, Polk Gulch and Financial District areas, police said.

The “clean-cut” black man typically wears a crisp suit, a black messenger-style bag and a Bluetooth headset during heists, police said. And if it seems as if that could be almost anyone, note that he also walks “very pigeon-toed,” police said.

The bandit’s method of operation is slick. In a heist captured on surveillance video recently made public, the suspect sat at a cafe table behind a patron whose purse was slung onto the back of her seat. He took off his jacket, hung it on the back of his chair, then reached through his jacket sleeve to rummage through the victim’s purse.

“Once the victims have realized their purses [or wallets] have been stolen, the suspect has already charged thousands of dollars on their credit cards,” San Francisco police Sgt. Mark Moreno said.

There have been seven confirmed thefts involving the Bluetooth bandit, and four that are unconfirmed but follow the same method of operation.

The incidents began in July, with the latest happening Sept. 18, police said. There could be many more thefts that have gone unreported.

Cops say the bandit may be using the “blinking Bluetooth device” to speak with an accomplice. One theory is that he could be providing stolen credit card information to the accomplice, though police said that at this point all theories are being considered.

Moreno encourages people who may see a man fitting this description to dial 911 immediately.

“We need your help in identifying this suspect,” Moreno said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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