Toronto police are asking for the public's help in identifying a man and woman wanted for an attempted distraction theft.

Investigators say the incident occurred on Jan. 14 at a restaurant near Steeles Avenue West and Bathurst Street.

In two separate attempts, police say each distracted the victim, a 25-year-old woman, while the other attempted to steal money from her backpack.

The victim was followed into the restaurant because she had previously withdrawn money from a bank, police say. 

Both events were captured on security cameras.


Constable Caroline de Kloet of 32 Division says distraction thieves are often drawn to ATMs and banks to seek out victims. 

"This is definitely one of the ways that [thieves find victims] because right away, they see that somebody has taken money out. This is something we've had other occurrences throughout the city at various times," she told CBC Toronto.

According to the Peel Police's crime prevention guide, common distraction tactics include:

  • Dropping money at your feet and asking if it is yours.
  • Asking for directions.
  • Pretending to confuse you for a friend and placing their hands on you.
  • Requesting help with a flat tire.
  • Saying you have food on your clothing and cleaning it off.

While being aware of your surroundings is key, police have a variety of tips to avoid becoming a victim of distraction theft: 

  • If you are withdrawing money, look around to see if someone is watching you.
  • Try not to take out large amounts of money in one lump sum.
  • Keep purses zipped and wallets in your front pocket.
  • Be very cautious of over-friendly strangers and do not let them in your personal space. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3206, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).