British Columbia

Police warn public after series of distraction thefts

West Vancouver police are warning shoppers to be wary of anyone approaching them offering to return lost cash, after a distraction thief targeted an elderly man in the Caulfeild neighbourhood last month.

West Vancouver police believe one suspect same person involved in 2018 Caulfeild-area theft

West Vancouver police said a still from surveillance video taken during the June 29, 2019, incident shows a man bearing a striking resemblance to a suspect from a 2018 distraction theft in the same shopping centre. (West Vancouver Police)

West Vancouver police are warning shoppers to be wary of anyone approaching them offering to return lost cash, after a distraction thief targeted an elderly man in the Caulfeild neighbourhood last month.

The victim was in the parking lot at the Caulfeild Village Shopping Centre at around 1 p.m. on June 29. Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said the suspect approached the senior, claiming the victim had dropped cash which he wanted to return.

When the victim opened his wallet, the suspect was able to remove a debit card. Only later, did the victim realize he was robbed of his card and called police.

"[The suspect has] likely witnessed the victim putting in their PIN to either a credit card or a debit card just before that. So once they have that pin in their mind, then they take that card."

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned male, 30-40 years old, with short black hair, wearing glasses, a white button-up shirt and tie.

Could be same suspect

West Vancouver Police believe this image of a suspect in a 2018 distraction theft is the same man allegedly involved in the June 29, 2019 Caulfeild Village Shopping Centre theft targeting an elderly man. (West Vancouver Police)

Goodmurphy said police believe this same suspect struck last year in the same shopping centre.

An elderly woman was targeted on Aug, 1, 2018, while using her credit card at the Caulfeild Safeway. She was unaware a man standing nearby was watching her enter her PIN to make a purchase.

After leaving the store, the man approached her holding a $5 bill he claimed she had dropped. Police said he used a slight-of-hand technique to remove the card, while returning the bill.

On Wednesday, Vancouver police issued a public warning, after an elderly woman was targeted by a pair of suspects in her own East Vancouver backyard.

One of the suspects — a female — approached the woman at around 11:30 a.m., July 20, while she was gardening. The suspect forced jewellery into her hands, distracting her while she removed the victim's gold bracelet. The suspect's male partner was waiting in a parked vehicle nearby.

"If somebody approaches you and makes reference to you dropping some money or is bringing up conversation that is a bit suspicious to you, just be aware what's happening," Goodmurphy said. "Don't be afraid to question them and to not allow them into your personal space."

Police are asking anyone who can identify this suspect to contact West Vancouver police at 604-925-7300, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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