British Columbia

Rash of distraction-style jewelry thefts target elderly in Abbotsford and Vancouver

Police are warning the elderly to be vigilant, after eight distraction-style thefts in Vancouver and Abbotsford over the last week.

Unsuspecting victims didn't realize theft had occurred until suspects had gone

"We're encouraging family and friends to tell seniors in our community about this — awareness is the key when it comes to these things," said Vancouver police media spokesperson Sgt. Jason Robillard. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

Police are warning the elderly to be vigilant, after eight distraction-style thefts in Vancouver and Abbotsford in the last week.

All of the cases involve a suspect swapping out the victim's expensive jewelry with inexpensive jewelry.

Vancouver police say six "distraction thefts" happened in South Vancouver on March 20 and March 21 between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. PT.

All six cases involve a suspect getting out of a vehicle and approaching an elderly woman who is on her own in a yard or on a sidewalk.

After a brief conversation, the thief makes physical contact with the victim and, in most cases, swaps the victim's expensive jewelry with inexpensive jewelry.

Abbotsford police say two similar cases were reported this week and involved elderly women that were walking in their neighbourhoods with grandchildren.

In both instances, a vehicle stopped and a female passenger asked the victims for directions to the hospital. After directions were given, a suspect exited the vehicle and made an excuse to place jewelry on the victim, and while doing so removed the victim's expensive jewelry.

The unsuspecting victims often didn't realize the theft had occurred until the suspects had gone.

The female suspect in the Abbotsford thefts is described as:

  • South Asian or Middle Eastern in appearance.
  • 50 to 60 years old, with a heavy build and black hair.

The male driver is described as South Asian or Middle Eastern in appearance and 20 to 30 years old, with black hair.

Police describe the suspect in the Vancouver incidents as:

  • A short, heavy-set woman.
  • Dark, olive complection and a round face
  • Aged 40 to 50 years old, and wearing a white shawl.

"It's very concerning for us to see this increase over the last two days," said Sgt. Jason Robillard, media spokesperson for the Vancouver police.

"We're encouraging family and friends to tell seniors in our community about this. Awareness is the key when it comes to these things."

Vancouver police ask anyone who is approached by these suspects to call 911 immediately, and for any victims who have not yet made a police report to call investigators at 604-717-2541.

Anyone with information regarding the Abbotsford incidents is asked to call 604-859-5225, or text 222973.

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