Police in three cities team up against distraction thefts

It appears to be a region-wide issue; police in three local cities are now working together to track down the people behind an increased number of distraction thefts targeting seniors.

The latest warning comes from the Surrey RCMP, which has identified what it calls a person of interest after elderly women were targeted for their gold jewellery.

Corporal Bert Paquet says they’re working with police in Vancouver and Delta after warnings were issued there.

“It would appear, in some cases, that it is very similar in circumstances. We are definitely following up with them to see if there are similarities [so that] we can pinpoint something specific that would connect the cases.”

It’s unclear if the person of interest is linked to any other crimes.

“Once we have confirmed that this person is involved or was involved in the thefts, then we’ll share that with other jurisdictions to see if there is any way to connect them to their thefts and see if we can solve them together,” adds Paquet.

With distraction thefts, an elderly woman, who is typically Asian or South Asian, is often approached by someone who speaks little to no English; while the victim is distracted, their gems are stolen.

A couple of days ago, a woman in Delta had a seven-carat diamond ring taken right off her finger while she gave someone directions.

No arrests have been made in any of the cases; police are advising you to conceal valuable jewellery when you go out.

Tips from police:

– If you are approached by someone you don’t know, be skeptical of their claims and watch your belongings
– Clearly tell the person that you are not interested and to leave you alone
– If you are continually pressed, draw attention to the situation and call for help
– Call 911 immediately after the incident to report it to the police
– Try to observe the direction of travel of the suspect