Four Austin Women Suspected in String of Sixth Street Thefts

Texas women suspected of stealing from 5 men may have drugged victims.

Dec. 8, 2008 — -- Police in Austin, Texas, are searching for a team of four women suspected of stealing from five men on separate occasions after meeting them in or outside bars on the city's popular Sixth Street, possibly using drugs to incapacitate them.

None of the victims, one of whom reported waking up in a hotel, have any recollection of the events.

The five incidents were reported from August to October but only recently were linked when police found they all occurred under the "exact same circumstances," according to the lead investigator, Det. Brenda Bauzon of the Austin Police Department.

"The men's memories are wiped before they even departed from their friends," Bauzon said. "They were drinking, but not highly, pass-out intoxicated. Then they just disappear. ... It all lends credibility to the notion that they were drugged."

In two cases that allegedly occurred on the same night, the women are suspected of stealing from two men who did not know each other and then taking them both to one of the victim's homes, where they left them.

The four women allegedly stole the men's wallets and used their credit cards to make purchases, including gift cards at stores such as Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Walgreen's, charging between $3,000 and $6,000 on each man's credit card.

It's a crime, Bauzon said, like none she had ever seen in her 14 years with the Austin Police Department.

"Obviously, there is slipping people mickeys and ruffies," she said. "You get those, but usually with sexual crime. This is the first I've seen of it, heard of women on men, possibly with drugs. I have no idea what's going through these women's minds."

According to former FBI agent Brad Garrett, however, the only thing vaguely new about this crime is that it was allegedly committed by an organized group of women.

"It's not a new crime to lure people out of bars to rob them," Garrett told ABC News. "The twist is a group doing it."

"It could be part of some protection network," he said. "A woman doing that on her own, would be a dangerous thing to do. ... Obviously, if you're drugging them, then that takes them out of the picture, but there's always safety in numbers."

It is complacency, Garrett said, that could get the group caught.

"You get comfortable," he said. "Crime becomes sort of part of who you are day to day. When you get comfortable, you put your guard down."

The group may have already done just that. Over the weekend, police released surveillance footage of the women allegedly using one of the stolen credit cards at a Wal-Mart. No arrests have been made.

Bauzon said she expected the crimes to slow, following local news reports that showed the footage.

"Obviously, if they saw it, they may die down a little bit," she said. "Their vehicles and faces were shown on the news."

Even if the group is caught, however, Bauzon said it would be difficult to prove drugs were used because no blood tests were done while the drugs were in the victims' systems.

"Not unless a new victim comes up and we're able to catch it soon," Bauzon said. "Or by the suspects' own admission."