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Friday 10 July 2015, 9:42 AM

It takes seconds... to be distracted

  • There have been an increasing number of thefts reported across the county involving shoppers who are stopped and asked for directions by visitors with maps.
  • Valuables are then stolen from cars or bags while the victims are kept distracted.
  • In most cases the thieves have watched people enter PIN numbers in the store or at the ATM before distracting them in the car park and taking purses and wallets.

Gloucestershire Constabulary wants to warn people to be on their guard, here are some figures:

Distraction Theft

  • 24 offences have been reported where distraction has been used by the offenders since the start of 2015.
  • All supermarket chains and all LPAs, apart from the Forest of Dean, have been affected by this type of crime.
  • 15 incidents have happened in supermarket car parks when offenders ask for directions to the hospital or the train station.  The offenders often have a map or a piece of paper which they place on the bonnet of a car to fully distract the victim while a second offender enters the vehicle and takes the debit cards just used by  the victim in the supermarket’s ATM or at the till.
  • 21 of the victims have been female, 3 have been male and all are aged over 60, yet the majority have been in their 70s and 80s.
  • Offenders then use the cards at ATMs both in Gloucestershire and outside the County.

Pick Pocketing/Purse Dipping

  • 40 incidences of pick pocketing or purse dipping have been reported at supermarkets since the start of 2015.
  • 6 victims recall being bumped into or followed by the offenders.
  • It’s believed that these offences are linked to the distraction thefts as they are often reported in the same supermarket, on the same date – often when the victim has just used the ATM at the supermarket. 

It takes seconds... to protect your valuables

  • Be vigilant when entering your PIN - make sure you cover the keypad on both chip and pin machines and at ATM cash points every time you enter your PIN number.
  • Keep your valuables secure - never leave them unattended, even for few moments. Keep your belongings tucked away safely in a zipped pocket or bag and use a purse chain if you have one.
  • Report stolen cards - if you lose your wallet, report it to your bank immediately.

 Dave McFarlane, Crime Reduction Advisor for Gloucestershire Constabulary says, “We are very conscious of these types of crime and we are in the process of talking to all supermarkets in the county to ask them to assist us in the prevention of these thefts.

If staff and customers can be mindful about this type of crime we can make it harder for the offenders. Be cautious at all times when approached by a seemingly kind stranger attempting to distract you from your property or possessions -  always be aware of your surroundings and don’t let your guard down in public places.  If you feel vulnerable simply say you can’t help.”

Do you recognise or can you help identify the two men below?

Gloucestershire Police would like to speak to them following distraction theft incidents, using maps in the car park, at Kingsditch Retail Park on 23rd June.  Please call 101 quoting incident number 308 of 23rd June 2015.

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