Shoppers across north Hampshire are being urged to be vigilant when out shopping after a number of distraction thefts have been reported to police.
People are being approached in supermarket car parks by groups or individuals using a variety of distraction techniques. The most common are:
- people asking for directions – usually using a map
- feigning injury or illness – usually diabetes related
- people asking for change for parking.
These offenders then steal handbags and wallets and use people’s debit and credit cards to withdraw cash.
A total of 23 reports of this type of crime have been received between February 1 and May 7, from across the Northern Policing Area – including Winchester and East Hampshire, Basingstoke, Andover and Hart and Rushmoor.
Crime prevention advisor Graeme Barbour said: “People who have fallen victim to this type of crime have also reported seeing people behaving suspiciously in supermarkets if they have been using self-service tills. This could be where offenders are watching shoppers entering pin codes when paying for their shopping.”
“If you notice people acting suspiciously inside supermarkets or you are approached by someone in a car park, please report it to police as soon as possible.”
He had some tips to help you keep your belongings safe when you are out shopping:
- Never leave your bag on the trolley unattended and always ensure your bag is zipped up
- When putting shopping away in the boot of your vehicle always ensure your handbag/wallet is with you
- If you are distracted for even a moment whilst putting shopping away – keep handbags with you or lock them in the vehicle before speaking to / helping anyone
- If asked for directions or to look at maps/items – ensure you lock personal items in the vehicle first
- Do not leave valuables on display in your vehicle
- When filling up with fuel, lock your vehicle when re-fuelling and when you go to pay
- If you are approached by anyone suspicious, report it to us as soon as possible.
Anyone with any information about these incidents is asked to contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101.