Car Park Distraction Thefts: CCTV Released

Hampshire Police have released CCTV footage of a supermarket distraction scam to highlight the crime to shoppers.

Hampshire car park distraction theft

Police are investigating a series of incidents where shoppers have been duped in shopping centre car parks by people asking for directions and showing a map.
The footage shows how the offender distracts the shopper to allow an accomplice to open the victim’s vehicle and steal from their handbags:

The stolen cards are then used to withdraw money or buy high value items, often before the victim has even realised their personal property has been taken.
Other similar techniques have been used to distract shoppers, including asking for directions, a need to go to hospital or asking if people have dropped money.
So, far police have received 55 reports of this type of crime from across the Northern Policing Area which includes Winchester and East Hampshire, Basingstoke, Andover and Hart and Rushmoor.

Crime prevention advisor Graeme Barbour said:

“People who have fallen victim to this type of crime have also reported seeing people behaving suspiciously in supermarkets. This could be where offenders are watching shoppers entering PIN codes when paying for their shopping.
“If you notice people acting suspiciously inside supermarkets or you are approached by someone in a car park, please report it to police as soon as possible.
“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. However, if you do, before you help please ensure your vehicle is locked and all your valuables are on your person or locked in your vehicle out of sight.”
Tips to help you keep your belongings safe when you are out shopping –

  • Never leave your bag on the trolley unattended and always ensure your bag is zipped up
  • When putting shopping away in the boot of your vehicle always ensure your handbag/wallet is with you
  • If you are distracted for even a moment whilst putting shopping away - keep handbags with you or lock them in the vehicle before speaking to / helping anyone
  • If asked for directions or to look at maps/items – ensure you lock personal items in the vehicle first
  • Do not leave valuables on display in your vehicle
  • When filling up with fuel, lock your vehicle when re-fuelling and when you go to pay
  • If you are approached by anyone suspicious, report it to us as soon as possible.

Anyone with any information should contact the Northern Area crime desk on 101 or the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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