The Vancouver Police Department are urging citizens to be extra cautious, especially when wearing visible accessories like necklaces, watches, and rings.
It’s a warning that comes after the VPD received reports of eight “distraction thefts” under the course of a month.
According to a statement from the VPD, the thefts usually involve strangers getting out of vehicles and approaching men and women who are visibly wearing necklaces and rings.
The thieves will make any number of excuses, so long as it results in a form of physical contact with the victims. Some reports include suspects engaging in conversation and offering “free” or inexpensive jewellery. Other reports describe the suspects frantically asking for directions.
Constable Jason Doucette comments that “these thieves are smooth and quickly get into your personal space” and that “victims usually don’t realize their jewellery has been taken until after the crooks are gone.”
One incident took place on Tuesday, May 22, near East 1st Avenue and Renfrew. A 70-year-old Chinese woman was approached in her driveway by two suspects who “began placing rings on her hands and a necklace around her neck.”
Although the woman pulled away and refused, the suspects managed to snatch a valuable necklace off her person.
Another incident took place on Wednesday, May 30, when an 80-year-old Italian woman was approached in front of her home, near Nanaimo and Oxford Street.
A frantic woman asked for directions to the hospital for her sick child. As a thank you, the suspect hugged the woman and attempted to steal her necklace. Luckily, the victim was able to push off the subject and retrieve her jewellery.
Vancouver Police have not been able to provide a specific suspect description, as there appear to be a number of different individuals involved.