The Vancouver Police Department is again advising the public to be cautious of strangers offering jewellery after a number of seniors have been targeted by con artists who use sleight of hand to steal their valuables.
Over the past several days, the Vancouver Police Department has had seven reported cases of distraction theft. Since December of 2012, there have been over 60 reported cases, totaling over $88,000 in losses.
The con consists of a thief finding a potential victim that is wearing gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings. The stranger approaches the victim, appeals to their ethnic background and overwhelms him or her by talking and placing fake jewellery or a scarf around the victim’s head, neck or wrist. The thief removes the victim’s jewellery and leaves behind the fake jewellery or a scarf in its place. The thief then walks away, leaving the victim disoriented and confused and not knowing they have been scammed until they notice their jewellery is missing.
The suspects 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.
The Vancouver Police Department would like to remind the public of the following tips:
- if you wear jewellery in public, conceal valuable items under your clothing
- 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 by calling for help
- 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.
The VPD has a reenactment of the scam in a previous media release and is encouraging people to watch it.