"Distraction thieves" are targeting Vancouver's elderly

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Woman attacked by a bandit via Shutterstock

According to the Vancouver Police Department, distraction thieves are continuing to target the elderly after two recent incidents in Vancouver.

The first incident happened on Monday, May 26 at around 3:30 in the afternoon when an 85-year-old woman was walking on Victoria Drive near 36th Avenue. A stranger approached her and held onto her, placing fake jewellery around her neck and forcibly removing the necklace and rings she was wearing. The robber then escaped into a waiting getaway car.

The second incident happened on May 27, again in broad daylight. This time, a 98-year-old woman was walking along St. George Street near 51st Avenue when she was approached by a stranger who also placed fake jewellery around her neck. The thief was in the process of stealing her gold earrings when she was scared off by the woman’s cries for help.

“These thieves continue to prey on the most vulnerable, our parents and grandparents, and are robbing them of valuable family heirlooms,” said VPD spokesperson Sergeant Randy Fincham.

Since December of 2012, police have had over 215 reported incidents of distraction theft, with 111 of those taking place in Vancouver. Police say victims have lost over $250,000 in irreplaceable jewellery.

With that in mind, the VPD is reminding the public of the following tips to prevent theft:

  • if you wear jewellery in public, conceal valuable items under your clothing
  • don’t allow anyone you don’t know into your personal space
  • clearly tell the person that you are not interested, and for them to leave you alone
  • draw attention to the situation by calling for help
  • call 9-1-1 and report the crime to police

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Major Crime Section at (604) 717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.

Featured Image: Woman attacked by a bandit via Shutterstock

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Jeff Clowers is a former Editorial Intern. He is a BCIT Journalism grad and avid sports fan - Go Eagles! Covering all the happenings of the Greater Vancouver area.
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