Vancouver police have issued a public warning after a rash of distraction thefts targeting the elderly.

Eight thefts have been reported in the past four days.

The warning is almost identical to one issued by the force last August, after a number of seniors fell prey to con artists.

Const. Brian Montague said the force it’s concerned about the recent cases and wants people to report suspicious activities.

He said there were 100 distraction thefts in Vancouver alone last year.

Victims are being targeted for wearing anything gold: earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings.

The thief overwhelms the person by putting a scarf or fake jewelry on them and talking to them, distracting them enough so the victim doesn’t notice the thief slipping off the person’s jewelry.

The elderly victim is often left confused and disoriented and doesn’t realize until later that their valuable jewelry has been stolen.

“In one case a victim was physically restrained by one suspect while the other suspect removed their jewelry,” Montague said.

Authorities say the scammers have been men and women of various ages, with medium to dark skin, and the women often wear long, flowing dresses. Some leave the scene quickly in a waiting car.

Police believe there are multiple theft groups working in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland and they may even be travelling from province to province.

The force has given the following tips to keep safe:

  • If you wear jewelry, conceal valuable items under your clothing when in public
  • Don’t allow anyone you don’t know into your personal space
  • Clearly tell the person that you are not interested, and for them to leave you alone
  • Draw attention to the situation
  • Call 9-1-1 and report the crime to police

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541.