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It doesn’t take long for a thief to take advantage of a mom on-the-go. Pierre LaRose, a crime prevention specialist at the Westerville Division of Police says it can happen in a second.

He says in the past week, Westerville police have taken six theft reports from the Highlands Park Aquatic Center on Spring Road, mostly involving cell phones left out in the open. He describes what surveillance cameras captured in action. “There will be people who will take an item, run to the fence, pass it off to someone waiting on the other side and just like that, you’re item is gone.”

Sara Reat says she tries not bring valuables with her when visiting the pool with a toddler. “I just try to hide my keys and things deep down [in the bag] so they don’t look as much as a target.”

But LaRose says moms like Sara are exactly who thieves are targeting.

“People work in teams sometimes,” says LaRose. “So scouting the situation, seeing who isn’t paying attention, some people looking to pick up the actual items and a lot of times there’ll be somebody else they can pass it off to so they can make a quick exit.”

LaRose also says thieves tend to gravitate towards the moms who are distracted. Emily Chalfant says as much as she tries to watch her belongings, it’s not always easy.

“You can’t always be watching it, especially when you have kids who are little and their safety is an issue too,” says Chalfant.

LaRose says there are simple steps moms can take to make themselves less of a target, starting with a locker. CrimeTracker 10 found only one out of 96 lockers being used on a sunny swim day.

“It’s a constant battle,” says LaRose about crime prevention. “We always want to educate people what they should do best and how not to lose their valuables.”

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