Distraction theft tactics used against East Vancouver senior
A decal on a Vancouver police cruiser is seen in this undated photo.
A 77-year-old woman was targeted by thieves in her own backyard earlier last week, Vancouver police say, and they're warning the public to be wary of distraction thefts.
Police say a senior woman was gardening at her home in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood last Saturday morning, when a man and woman drove up in an SUV. The woman got out of the car, approached the senior and forced pieces of costume jewelry into her hands.
After the senior told the woman to leave, she later realized that her gold bracelet had been removed from her wrist during the incident.
"Distraction thieves work quickly and use the element of surprise to confuse their victims,” said VPD Const. Steve Addison in a news release. "They’re successful because victims often don’t realize they’ve been scammed until much later."
Police say that in the past, distraction thieves tend to target elderly men and women who are visibly wearing jewelry. Often, one or two thieves will approach a victim and overwhelm them by placing fake jewelry around the victim's head, neck or wrist. They then use sleight of hand techniques to take the victim's jewelry and replace it with a fake item.
In this case, VPD's major crimes section is now investigating as it has similarities to those past incidents.
The suspects from Friday's incident were driving a dark, four-door SUV. The woman was between 35 to 45 years old, around 5'3" tall with brown, shoulder-length hair and olive skin.
She was wearing a floral dress at the time with sandals and bright red nail polish.
The man was described as being South Asian with darker skin and was seen wearing a black baseball cap and a polo shirt.
Police advise the public to not allow strangers into their personal space and to tell anyone who tries to give them jewelry that they aren't interested. However, if the situation escalates, they say to draw attention and call 911 right away.
Anyone with information about recent distraction thefts is asked to call the VPD at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers.