Montreal police have released a statement warning citizens, particularly the elderly, to be cautious of a gang of con artists who specialize in stealing jewellery while the victims are still wearing it.
Police say the perpetrators are working solo and in groups, while keeping a getaway vehicle nearby.
The crime allegedly begins by distracting the victim. The thieves start up a conversation, either asking for directions, the time, or garnishing sympathy with a story of a dead relative.
After an introduction and brief conversation, as a way of thanking the victim for listening, the con artists offer a worthless necklace or bracelet as a gift and, while fastening it to the victim, the thieves quickly remove the targeted jewellery.
According to the SPVM, the group’s skills are so advanced that the victim only realizes what’s been stolen when it’s too late.
Police are warning citizens to travel in groups when possible and urge people not to wear any jewellery in public and to refuse any gift or unsolicited approaches from strangers.
The SPVM is asking people with any information to call 911, to leave an anonymous tip or to reach the Elder Mistreatment Helpline (Ligne Aide Abus Aînés) at 1-888-489-2287 to report suspicious behaviour.