Thames Valley Police warn of handbag scam thefts at local supermarkets
Residents across the Bracknell and Wokingham districts are being warned to be vigilant so as not to fall victim to distraction thieves who have recently been active in supermarket car parks.
The offenders working as a pair target females with handbags who pay for their shopping using a Chip & PIN bank or credit card at which point the thieves, who will have followed their victim to the tills, will take note of the PIN as the victim is entering it into the card reader.
The offenders then follow their victim out in to the car park where they will wait until the victim has loaded all her shopping and her handbag into the car before one of them will then approach the victim claiming to have seen someone bash her car with a trolley whilst she was in the store.
Whilst the victim is distracted by this conversation a second thief opens a car door or the boot and steals the handbag.
In incidents reported so far the victims have been unaware of the theft until they have got home, by which time the offenders have used the bank cards in ATMs to withdraw the maximum amount of cash.
The offender who has distracted victims in the Bracknell area is described as been a white adult male, (mid 30s) speaking English but with an eastern European accent; 5’9” – 6’ tall; slim; clean shaven with neat short cut dark hair and dressed in dark casual clothing and enquiries have confirmed he has been working with a second male.
This scam is not just limited to Bracknell and there are others committing the same scam. In the past week a male and female couple were convicted and imprisoned for 2 years by High Wycombe Magistrates for committing the same style thefts across the Thames Valley region.
If you have witnessed such incidents or have any information that will assist investigations please contact Thames Valley Police on 101.
To prevent yourself been targeted by these distraction thieves and to prevent unauthorised access to your account with your bank/credit cards:
- Firstly, ensure you prevent others from seeing your PIN whenever you use your bank or credit cards by shielding the key pad.
- Never keep any written record of your PIN in your purse, wallet or handbag.
- Consider carrying your purse and bank cards in a pocket rather than in a handbag.
- On returning to your car check who is around, check your car bodywork and tyres as you approach and have a look around it. If you know there is no damage you will not be drawn into this scam.
Think handbag security, if you put it in the car or boot first don’t leave it lying on top of the shopping in view and easy to snatch.