Shopkeepers in New Orleans say they have been terrorised by a gang of transvestites who distract staff with "props" including fake babies before stealing the loudest clothes they can get their hands on.
The trendy boutiques on Magazine Street have been hit at least six times since they reopened after Hurricane Katrina late in August last year.
According to the newspaper, the cross-dressing shoplifters are tall, slender men who wear brassy blonde wigs, stiletto heels and striking skintight tank tops.
They do not appear to carry weapons but use "distracting props" like pretend babies - or real toddlers.
Wes Davis, the owner of a shop called Turncoats which recently lost around $2,000 worth of clothes, said the shoplifters struck an intimidating pose at well over six feet in their high heels.
"It was all the loudest, the brightest of our inventory," he said.
"Neon green zip-ups, hot pink tank tops. Loud, fun, go-out clothing.
"They use the fact that you don't want to stare at them, and that gives them time to rip you off."