The Vancouver Police Department is advising the public to be cautious of strangers offering jewellery after a number of residents have again been targeted by groups who use distraction, sleight of hand and sometimes force to steal their valuables.
There have been eight distraction thefts and robberies reported to the VPD in the previous four days. The VPD has put out multiple warnings regarding this type of crime in the past, but are again concerned about the recent cases and want residents to report suspicious activity.
Thieves are targeting victims who are wearing gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings. The victims are approached by one or two strangers who overwhelm them by talking and placing fake jewellery around the victim’s head, neck or wrist. The thief removes the victim’s jewellery and leaves behind the fake jewellery in its place. In one case, a victim was physically restrained by one suspect while the other suspect removed their jewellery.
Suspect descriptions differ, but they have been described as both men and women of varying age, with medium to dark skin. The women often wear flowing dresses and scarves. On a number of occasions the thief has left in a waiting car driven by another person.
Police believe that there are multiple distraction theft groups working in Vancouver and the lower mainland. These crime groups often travel from city to city and province to province.
Investigators are working with other police agencies in the Lower Mainland and other major cities across Canada in an attempt to identify and arrest individuals responsible for these incidents.
The Vancouver Police Department would like to remind the public of the following tips:
- if you wear jewellery, 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 about this crime is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Major Crime Section at (604) 717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.