Female pensioners are being targeted by thieves as they shop alone at supermarkets in Cheshire.
Cheshire police is warning members of the public to be on their guard following reports of sophisticated distraction-type thefts.
The force says offenders watch their victims – who tend to be women of pensionable age – while they enter their pin number into the chip and pin device at the checkout.
When the victim has placed the shopping inside their car and their handbag on the passenger seat, one thief will distract the victim by asking for directions while an accomplice steals the victim’s bank card from their purse.
Some incidents have seen the offenders follow their victim home before carrying out the theft.
Det Con Karen Brook said: “Of concern to us is the fact that these thieves appear to target older shoppers when committing their crimes.
“We are now warning the public to be on their guard and to have an awareness of this type of crime by following simple crime prevention steps.
“Similarly, we would remind people to always check their bank statements for any inaccuracies or discrepancies, as credit card fraud may not be immediately apparent to the victim.”
Police have issued advice to protect against this type of crime
- Don't leave your handbag hung over the shopping trolley or unattended at any time and make sure your purse is secure inside your bag
- If you are approached by a stranger in unusual circumstances in or around a supermarket, do not engage with them, particularly if they ask for directions or change. Be firm with them, walk away, and report any suspicious activity to the police
- When using a chip and pin device or ATM, always shield your number with your hand. Avoid using cash machines that appear to have been tampered with, or where groups of people are hanging around