More seniors targeted in new rash of distraction thefts, Vancouver police say
Andrew Weichel, CTV News Vancouver
Published Friday, August 23, 2019 1:01PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, August 23, 2019 7:10PM PDT
Police are once again warning the public to watch out for scammers after several more seniors were targeted in distraction thefts in South Vancouver.
In the latest three incidents, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the thieves approached seniors in the Kensington and Fraserview neighbourhoods and tried to offer them fake jewelry.
During the interactions, the scammers subtly removed real jewelry that the unsuspecting victims were wearing and then took off.
"Distraction thieves are successful because they use the element of surprise to confuse and overwhelm their victims," Const. Steve Addison said in a news release. "They often target elderly people or visible minorities, and in most cases the victims don’t even realize they’ve been scammed until much later."
The suspects in the most recent distraction thefts are described as a South Asian man who is 40-45 years old with short black hair and a South Asian woman who is 30-35 and has long black hair.
In each incident, they approached the victims while driving a white sedan or SUV.
The suspect descriptions and MO are similar to those of another distraction theft that was reported last month in East Vancouver, and which prompted another warning by police.
Authorities said they're currently investigating "a number of distraction thefts" that took place in the city's east side this summer, and believe there could be many others that were never reported.
Some victims may not report the incidents because they're embarrassed, Addison said, or because they didn't realize the theft occurred and believe they simply lost their jewelry.
"Residents are reminded to remain vigilant, not to let strangers into their personal space, and to call 911 immediately if they see a crime in progress," the Vancouver Police Department said in its warning.
Anyone with information on the distraction thefts are asked to call the VPD's Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.