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yetion1
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« Reply #100 on: June 21, 2010, 06:35:31 pm »

Police Warning Over Supermarket Distraction Thefts
Saturday, 19 June, 2010

Police are urging shoppers to be on their guard after a spate of
distraction thefts at supermarkets across West Yorkshire.

There have been six of the same type of distraction thefts at supermarkets
across West Yorkshire since the 11 May and police believe the same gang
could be involved in each of the incidents.

In each case a lone and middle aged woman has been targeted by a group of
what are thought to be Eastern Europeans.

Unusually the group often includes a female suspect.

The distraction theft works after the suspects' identify a victim in the
supermarket before loitering close to the checkout and making a note of the
victim's pin number and bank/credit card. The suspects then follow the
victim to their car and observe them as they unload their shopping.

At this point an accomplice will drive a car and park behind the victim's
vehicle effectively blocking them in before getting out and asking the
victim for directions to a place nearby, often using a map as a further
method of distraction. While the victim is engaged with one of the suspects
an accomplice will remove cards from the victim's purse which is often left
on the passenger seat.

In most cases the victim does not realise the theft has taken place until
they are contacted by their bank/credit card company to make them aware of
unusual activity on their card.

The first reported case in West Yorkshire was on 11 May at the Tesco Extra
store at Seacroft, Leeds. This was followed on the 18 May at Sainsbury's in
the Colton Retail Park and at Morrisons in Wetherby on 25 May. The latest
incident took place yesterday (17/6), also at the Sainsbury's store in
Colton.

Other similar offences have also been reported in Knottingley and
Heckmondwike.

Police believe the same vehicle has been used in each offence and this was
captured on an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) system on the M1
near to junction 47 at Parlington on the 18 May. The vehicle is a dark
Cadbury type purple coloured old style Vauxhall Vectra. The registration
plate is: WV51 AZF.

Sergeant Emmett, of the North East Leeds Neighbourhood Investigation Unit,
said: "These suspects have a very specific method of targeting their
victim's and it's about recognising the signs and responding accordingly to
prevent yourself becoming one of their targets.

"Always be mindful of anyone close to you when you're entering your pin
number. Use your body and hand to shield your pin and if you feel
uncomfortable speak to the checkout operator and ask them to contact the
stores security personnel.

"We are following a number of good leads in this investigation but I would
ask anyone with information about the vehicle or about this series of
distraction thefts to contact PC Ware at the Neighbourhood Investigation
Unit based at Stainbeck Police Station via: 0845 60 60 606 or call
Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence on: 0800 555 111."
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