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Hampshire police warn shoppers after series of thefts
POLICE are telling shoppers to beware after a spate of distraction thefts throughout Hampshire.
This year they have received reports of 55 such crimes from across the Northern Policing Area, which includes the Winchester district.
A series of incidents have been reported in shopping centre car parks, in which people are asked for directions and shown a map.
According to Hampshire’s crime prevention advisor, Graeme Barbour, the criminals tend to go on a spending spree with the stolen bank cards, buying luxury items before the victim has even realised they have been robbed.
He said victims have described suspicious behaviour in supermarkets and he believes this could be thieves watching shoppers enter their PIN codes when paying for goods.
Mr Barbour said: “These people are knowingly preying on people’s goodwill and helpful nature and are intentionally targeting lone shoppers at supermarkets, causing a distraction which allows another member of the group to commit the theft.
“If you are approached in this way, please act cautiously. Not everyone asking for directions is a criminal, and if you choose to help it is your decision to do so.”
In April a shopper was distracted by a woman as she left Waitrose in Weeke.
As she walked towards her car, she was stopped and asked for directions. While she gave them, another person took credit cards from her handbag as it lay on the seat of her car.
Police say residents can help protect themselves by doing simple things including keeping handbags and wallets close at all times, and locking your vehicle when re-fuelling.
Anyone with any information should contact the Northern Area crime desk on 101 or the Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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