Wokingham Borough Council is urging residents to look out for more vulnerable people in the community following an increase in distraction thefts.
Alerts have recently been issued by Thames Valley Police about incidents in the Woodley area. In these cases, the offenders have been targeting vulnerable and elderly people and using distraction techniques to obtain their bank cards once they have entered their PIN.
These criminals often work in groups, with someone watching the victim as they input their PIN, while another distracts them. It is important to be aware of your surroundings when you are using a cash machine, or in a supermarket car park.
Victims are often distracted by an offender asking them questions or telling them they have dropped something, before taking their card and later using it to withdraw money. Residents should also be mindful of their purse being taken from their bag while visiting a supermarket.
Making the community aware
Cllr Bill Soane, executive member for neighbourhood and communities, said: “Although it is not our intention to scare our residents, we feel it is important for them to know the facts. These groups are actively targeting elderly and vulnerable people in our borough and we want to do all we can to prevent that.
“We appreciate not all of our residents are active on social media and may only learn of this through word of mouth. That is why we would ask you all to look out for your friends, family and neighbours and make them aware that distraction thieves are about and may move onto other areas as public awareness increases.”
Being aware of your surroundings and avoiding distractions makes it harder for people to take advantage. Always cover your PIN as you enter it and keep an eye on your bank cards at all times.
If you see or suspect a crime is taking place, call the police on 999. If you have any information about these offences or witness suspicious activity, you should call the non-emergency number 101 or use the Thames Valley Police online reporting form.
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