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NEW ORLEANS (UPI) -- As if Hurricane Katrina wasn't enough to deal with, clothing stores in New Orleans are being terrorized by a gang of cross-dressing shoplifters.
Wearing brassy blonde wigs, stiletto heels and skintight tank tops, the designer-purse toting bandits have hit at least half a dozen times since shops along Magazine Street reopened, USA Today reports.
The female impersonators don't seem to be carrying weapons and instead employ props like fake babies to distract shop owners and employees.
"This is the way they get the stuff they want to wear," Noel Barras, owner of Winky's clothing and gift shop, told the paper.
Turncoats, which sells slinky tank tops and T-shirts, recently was looted for about $2,000, according to owner Wes Davis.
"It was all the loudest, the brightest of our inventory," says Davis. "They use the fact that you don't want to stare at them, and that gives them time to rip you off."
Since New Orleans police are busy with more urgent matters, store owners have devised their own protection system. The owners phone each other when the suspected thieves are spotted and everyone locks their doors.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
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