Vancouver Police are alerting the public about recent thefts that are believed to be part of an organized crime “distraction theft” group targeting the elderly.
“There have been multiple thefts reported in the past few weeks,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD. “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 believe multiple suspects are involved.
Victims report being approached by a female suspect who makes physical contact through a handshake or a hug. The suspect places fake jewelry on the victim and removes expensive jewelry. The getaway vehicle is usually driven by a male and, in some reports, children have also been in the vehicle or have been used to create a distraction.
In other cases, victims report being stopped near a highway where the suspects claims a family member is in need, and offers expensive-looking jewelry as collateral for financial assistance.
“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,” adds Constable Visintin. “If you have fallen victim to this crime, please call police.”
Investigators are asking anyone with information to please call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.