Simi Valley police say they recently saw a new incident of the theft and there were two others in nearby jurisdictions.
The thieves generally find a victim at a gas station pump - usually a woman - and drive up on the opposite side of their vehicle.
They bend down out of sight of the victim who is pumping gas, slide up to her car, open the door and take a purse or wallet. They then slide back into their own vehicle and drive off, with the victim having no idea.
Police are reminding people to take some basic precautions at gas stations: When pumping gas, close your windows, lock your doors and take your keys. Take your purse or wallet with you or at least put it out of sight.
Police also remind people to stay aware of their surroundings and don't be distracted by cellphones.