Police have warned female shoppers to be vigilant following a series of distraction thefts in supermarket car parks across Devon and Cornwall.
There have been at least 5 reports of women being targeted by thieves whilst loading shopping into their cars.
Lone females have been targeted in Newton Abbot, Plymouth and Saltash.
During the incident at Tesco car park in Kingsteignton, happened around 5.30pm on 29th July. A 68-year-old Newton Abbot woman was targeted by a man who asked for directions and asked her to draw a map.
The offences are being linked and police are seeking the offenders, one of which is described as aged in his 30s to 40s, around 5ft 8ins tall, of slim build with short black or dark hair. He is of Eastern European appearance, speaks with a foreign accent which is hard to understand and is always smartly dressed, usually in a suit.
Police are advising women to be on the lookout for the distraction technique and to report any suspicious activity to police.
Detective Sergeant Jamie Gilbert, from Charles Cross police station in Plymouth, said: “The offences are being linked by police. The offenders appear to be targeting women on their own while they are loading their cars with shopping at local supermarkets.
“It is important to stress that none of the women have been physically harmed during these thefts and the offenders are targeting them for money and bank cards from purses and handbags.
“We would ask women to be aware of this distraction technique which preys upon their good nature by asking for help with directions. This individual sounds very genuine and looks smart.
“We would ask anyone who is approached in this fashion to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to police.
“Police are advising female shoppers to lock other car doors and windows while they are loading their groceries and to keep their handbags and purses on them.”
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact police by phone on 101 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org quoting crime reference CR/52813/15.
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