ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Women are being targeted by thieves while at the gas pump.

The St. Louis County Police Department claims thieves sneak up to the car, usually on the opposite side of where gas is being pumped, and thieves take what they can.

“This is something that can happen very, very quickly,” Sgt. Tracy Panus, a county police spokeswoman, said.

Panus said criminals are looking for people, usually at gas stations, to steal from.

“They’ll pull up to the passenger side of the vehicle, open up the car door when you’re not even paying attention, grab your purse and run off,” she said.

Investigators are seeing a trend among victims of the so-called “slider” crime.

“They’re targeting women, obviously, because we tend to carry purses more often, so we are being targeted,” Panus said. “Women really need to be aware, men carrying bags, backpacks.”

Police recommend drivers lock their car doors while gassing up and keep keys in your pocket.

Panus said there are several groups of criminals doing this but this type of crime is happening across the region.

“This is not something we’re seeing in just St. Louis County, we’re seeing this in outlining areas as well,” Panus said.