DAMASCUS, Md. (CBSDC)— Ladies, have you ever left your purse in your car while running a quick errand?

Police in both Howard and Montgomery counties are now warning women not to risk it. Thieves have struck in numerous suburban areas, often outside parks, gyms, schools, or community centers, smashing the windows of cars to steal purses left behind then using the debit cards or checks inside to wipe their victim’s bank accounts clean.

The string of thefts “appears to be a well-organized and complicated” scheme, Howard County police say. After stealing the purses, the thieves are using victim one’s checkbook to write a check to victim two. Then the check is taken to the bank and cashed by someone posing as victim two, using the stolen identification.

If you fall victim to these thieves, Montgomery County police officer Janelle Smith advises to call your bank immediately and cancel debit cards and checks.

Officers in the affected areas are also urging people not to leave valuables in the car for any length of time, and to report any suspicious behavior.

WNEW’s Karen Adams contributed to this report. Follow Karen and WNEW on Twitter.