Knoxville (WVLT) -- A warning before you go Christmas shopping.
A South Knoxville woman lost more than her money when her purse was stolen, she lost her identity.
In fact, not only did she lose her identity, but she lost the identities of her two children as well.
According to Brandy Mauricio, her stolen handbag has her their birth certificates and social security cards in it.
It happened in early November when Brandy made a late night trip to the Wal-Mart on Chapman Highway to get a vaporizer for her sick child.
"My cart was right here,” she said. “My purse was in the front part where you put your kid, but thank God my kids weren't with me."
Brandy's purse was gone in a flash.
"I turned around and my whole life was gone."
A lot more than just some cash and a credit card.
"My wallet, my checkbook, my credit cards, my driver's license and social security card on me and my kids,” she said. “Also, my birth certificates on me and my kids because my daughter just had surgery a couple of weeks ago and you need that stuff."
Within hours, the thief was doing her best Brandy impersonation at a local hospital.
"They posed as me and got treated and was able to get prescription drugs pain medicine in my name."
The thief also took to forging checks.
"This is my signature,” Brandy said holding up a check. “This looks nothing like my signature and my driver's license looks like this, not like this."
Another stolen purse is being used.
"From her checkbook, they're writing checks to me in my name and using my ID," she said.
The thief is laying the ground work for a bumpy ride.
"The police tell me that I'm going to have problems for years to come."
And it might be even more painful for Brandy's first grader and her baby sister?
"Every little bit that I had set aside for Christmas, I've had to use that money to get all of our stuff back.”
Back from a nightmare that's left a lasting impression.
"God, hold on to your purse like it was your life," she said.
Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said that an investigator is assigned to the case and the department has already spent a lot of time on it.
KPD is also working with another out-of-county agency to help catch the thief.