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Man has warning for beachgoers after thief steals credit cards, goes on shopping spree

Deputies say Serena Stein used stolen credit cards to rack up thousands of dollars' worth of purchases
Lake Worth Beach, Aug. 19, 2022
Posted at 10:17 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 22:17:46-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A Lake Worth Beach woman was arrested after stealing IDs, credit cards, cash and cellphones from people at the beach while they were swimming in the ocean, deputies said.

"You come out here, you want to relax, you want to just have a good time," Justin Greer told Contact 5.

Greer told Contact 5 it happened earlier this month when he was at Lake Worth Beach with his family.

"During the time we were in the water, my nephew had kind of noticed what he thought was somebody kind of suspiciously near our stuff," Greer said. "I noticed that the bag that contained my phone and wallet was completely gone."

He said his girlfriend's phone was also missing, but his nephew and brother's phones were still there.

"So we were able to start using the locate-my-phone (function)," he said.

Lake Worth Beach entrance to beach, Aug. 19, 2022

Greer told Contact 5 they were able to ping the phones to several different stores in the area.

"My understanding was she was attempting to buy gift cards with my credit card," Greer said. "Once we flagged down the police officer from the sheriff's department in the parking lot, he started going through the video monitors, making sure he could see where we were set up."

According to the probable cause affidavit, cameras at the beach caught the suspect, Serena Stein, 54, in the act. The affidavit also said Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office investigators were able to track her down at her home.

They located the stolen items and receipts in the trash can outside her home, according to the documents.

Stein was arrested and is now facing charges of fraudulent use of personal information, grand theft and unlawful use of a stolen credit or debit cards.

As for Greer, he's now working with his bank to recoup the thousands of dollars he lost.

"Keep an eye on your stuff," he said. "If you can, lock it in your car. Or just don't even bring it."

People who spoke with WPTV on Friday at Lake Worth Beach told Contact 5 that is advice they'll be taking.

"Your guard is down because you're sitting there enjoying [the beach]," Richard Albanese said. "Got to be on the lookout."

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