Beware thieves' distraction

Vancouver police are warning the public to be vigilant after another spate of distraction thefts targeting seniors.

Between Aug. 20 and 21, three seniors in the Kensington and Fraserview neighbourhoods were targeted by a man and a woman driving a white car. In each case, the suspects stopped the car, called the victims over and tried to give them fake jewelry while subtly removing the victims’ real jewelry.

“Distraction thieves are successful because they use the element of surprise to confuse and overwhelm their victims,” media relations officer Const. Steve Addison said in a press 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.”

Police are already investigating a number of similar cases this summer in East Vancouver.

Last month a 77-year-old woman was preyed upon in her own backyard near Grandview Highway and Renfrew Street. A rash of distraction thefts hit south Vancouver earlier this year, with six incidents reported to police in the span of two days.

And West Vancouver police issued a similar warning Thursday after seeing an uptick in that area.

The suspects in this week’s cases are described as a South Asian woman, 30 to 35 years old, with long black hair and a South Asian man, 40 to 45 years old with short black hair. In each case they were said to be driving a white sedan or SUV.

Addison said police believe many more distraction thefts have gone unreported because the victims are either embarrassed, or simply think they’ve lost their jewelry. Police are reminding residents to remain vigilant, not let strangers into their personal space, and to call 911 immediately if they see a crime in progress.

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