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Seniors being targeted in new string of 'distraction thefts,' Vancouver police warn
VANCOUVER -- Police in Vancouver are warning residents of yet another spike in distraction thefts where seniors are being targeted.
In this case, they believe the incidents are linked to an "organized crime distraction theft group."
"There have been multiple thefts reported in the past few weeks," Const. Tania Visintin said in a news release.
"The thief distracts the victim, prior to stealing from them. We have issued warnings in the past, but with the recent cases, are again encouraging residents to be aware and report suspicious activity."
Police said they think multiple suspects are involved. In one recurring situation, victims said they were approached by a woman who makes physical contact with a handshake or a hug. She then discreetly removes expensive jewelry from the victim and replaces it with fake jewelry.
In those instances there's usually a getaway vehicle driven by a man. Sometimes, there have been children in the vehicle who have also been used to create a distraction.
In some other situations, victims have been stopped near a highway. The suspect approaches them and claims that a family member needs help. They ask for financial assistance, offering expensive-looking jewelry as collateral.
"We're advising people to not allow strangers into their personal space, and to tell anyone who tries to give them jewelry or place jewelry on them, that they are not interested," Visintin said. "If you have fallen victim to this crime, please call police."
Last September, police arrested a 23-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman who they believed were responsible for a series of distraction thefts.
The pair was taken into custody near Kerr Street and East 49th Avenue, not long after a 69-year-old man had his necklace stolen after interacting with a man and woman on the street.
Anyone with information about the recent incidents is asked to contact the Major Crimes Section at the Vancouver Police Department by calling 604-717-2541. Tips can also be sent anonymously to Crime Stoppers.