Court: The Landings wallet thief makes at least $5,000 in fraudulent charges

A 36-year-old man accused of fraudulently charging $5,000 to at least 14 debit and credit cards snatched from stolen wallets faced 30 charges during a Friday morning Recorder's Court hearing.

Steven Carson was charged with ten counts of financial transaction card fraud, 14 counts of financial transaction card theft and six counts of theft by taking. He was arrested Tuesday, nearly a month after Columbus police first sought him in connection to a series of snatched wallets at The Landings shopping center and Moon Road's Columbus Hospice.

Carson's first wallet heist was reported on May 14, a detective told the court. On that date, a 45-year-old Columbus Hospice employee reported that a suspect entered her office and stole her wallet, which was in a purse hidden beneath her desk. Within minutes of that theft, another employee reported her wallet missing.

Before the second victim was able to cancel her cards, the thief made $1,500 worth of charges at Walmart, Kmart, Lowe's and Home Depot, according to an earlier report. She also said CB&T employees intercepted a Kmart charge for more than $400 when she went to cancel her cards that afternoon.

The first victim cancelled her cards before a fraudulent charge was made. Both stolen wallets, one of which contained several credit cards and $20 in cash, were later found ransacked in a company trash can, the victims said.

Fortunately, surveillance footage captured at the nearby CVS helped police match Carson to surveillance footage at Columbus Hospice. Officers were able to develop a suspect profile further the following week, when surveillance cameras at The Landings' Lizard Thicket captured additional of the same suspect.

During each theft, Carson is accused of hovering near the employee section of the targeted business until he could gain access to the employee's only section. There, he would rummage through belongings until he could find a wallet, the detective told the court.

Police say Carson may face additional charges from several other similar thefts. He has previously been convicted of similar crimes committed at an unspecified date, according to court testimony.

Judge Michael Joyner set a $75,000 bond on Carson's charges. His case will be bound over to the Muscogee County Superior Court.