VPD warns about recent distraction thefts targeting seniors

Jan 31 2020, 10:31 am

The Vancouver Police Department is warning the public about recent thefts believed to be part of an organized crime “distraction theft” group specifically targeting seniors.

According to VPD Constable Tania Visintin, multiple incidents have been reported last week.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Victims report they are approached by a female who greets them with a handshake or hug. The suspect then places fake jewellery on the victim and removes the expensive jewellery. A getaway vehicle is usually driven by a male. Police say children are also in the vehicle or been used to create a distraction.

In other cases, victims say they have been stopped near a highway and the suspect claims their family member is in need, offering “expensive-looking jewellery 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 jewellery or place jewellery on them, that they are not interested,” said 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.