Friday, March 31, 2023
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Distraction thieves are targeting elderly and vulnerable women at Sussex Supermarkets

Officers investigating a series of distraction thefts at supermarkets in Sussex have released images of four men they’d like to identify.

Police have received a number of reports of elderly and vulnerable women having bank cards and money stolen from them in areas including Crawley, Hove, Horsham, Haywards Heath, and Rustington.

In each case, a person has inconspicuously watched the victim enter their PIN number at the checkout before sending a description of the victim to a second person waiting in the car park.

That person then distracts the victim while they’re unpacking their shopping, allowing another suspect to steal purses and bank cards from the victim’s handbag.

In most cases, the handbag was left in situ meaning the victims haven’t noticed their purses or cards are missing until they get home. By this time, money has already been withdrawn from their account.

Officers investigating the thefts believe the four men pictured could help with their ongoing enquiries and ask them, or anyone who recognises them, to get in touch.

Anyone with information can report it to police online or by calling 101 quoting serial 47220206182. Alternatively, information can be passed to police anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

With the busy Christmas shopping period ahead, police are urging people to be vigilant and alert to any suspicious activity in shops and supermarkets.

Shoppers are encouraged to check their surroundings before entering their PIN codes, always cover the keypad, and keep a close eye on any handbags or valuables while in public places.

For further advice on how to keep yourself safe while shopping, visit your local police station, call 101 or visit the Sussex Police website.

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