A number of thefts where jewelry was stolen right off people’s necks or hands has Vancouver police urging vigilance, particularly amongst seniors.
“Distraction thefts,” police said Thursday, involve strangers approaching someone wearing visible necklaces and rings before making various excuses to make physical contact with them.
“These thieves are smooth and quickly get into your personal space. Victims usually don’t realize their jewelry has been taken until after the crooks are gone,” Const. Jason Doucette said.
“We are encouraging family and friends to tell the seniors in our communities about this scam, and remind them to be very cautious if someone enters their personal space.”
Police have received eight reports of distraction thefts in less than a month.
In one case, on May 22 just before 5 p.m., 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.
The woman pulled away, but the suspects still managed to make off with a valuable necklace she’d already been wearing.
In another incident on May 30, an 80-year-old Italian woman was approached in front of her home, near Nanaimo Street and Oxford Street, by a frantic woman asking for directions to the hospital for her sick child.
The suspect hugged the woman to thank her and tried to steal her necklace. Police say the victim pushed off the suspect and was able to grab her jewelry back.
Police believe a number of suspects are involved and are asking anyone with information to call investigators at 604-717-0613.