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Police out with warning about recent distraction thefts

Eight incidents have been reported to police so far this month
WRPS cruiser 2

Waterloo Regional Police are alerting residents after several reports of distraction theft-related incidents at grocery stores within the region.

Police received eight reports between February 9 and February 21. The victims had their wallets or purses stolen after being distracted by small talk or questions in a store, or shortly after exiting a store.

In one instance, at a store in the area of Ottawa Street North and Lackner Boulevard in Kitchener, the suspect distracted the victim, then stole a wallet located in the victim's purse. A stolen credit card was then used to make multiple purchases, totalling approximately $3,500.

Police add it appears in the latest incidents, the suspects targeted women over the age of 70.

They released the following tips in which residents can protect themselves:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Shield your PIN as you make a purchase or cash withdrawal at an ATM
  • If someone appears suspicious and randomly tries to engage in a conversation, pay close attention to your property
  • If someone is crowding you in a checkout line, don’t be afraid to ask them to respect your space
  • If you are unnecessarily bumped or crowded, be aware that a distraction theft might be occurring and check your valuables
  • Keep your personal items within your eyesight while shopping, and do not leave any items unattended
  • Be cautious if someone offers to help you bag or carry items you have purchased
  • Report any suspicious activity to police

If you have been a victim of a distraction theft but have not reported the crime yet, you are asked to contact police at 519-570-9777, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.