The offenders tend to target older people who are shopping in the supermarket. They watch the victim while they enter their payment card PIN into the chip and pin device at the checkout. Then once the victim has placed their shopping in their car and their handbag on the passenger seat, one offender will distract the victim by asking for directions, while an accomplice steals the victim’s bank card from their purse. The offenders will then empty the victim’s account of cash either at cash machines or by going on a spending spree.
Police are keen to remind the public to be vigilant and take steps to prevent thieves from taking their cards.
DCI Paul Beauchamp said: "Of concern to us is the fact that these thieves appear to target older shoppers when committing their crimes. We are again taking the opportunity to remind the public to be on their guard and to have an awareness of this type of crime and following simple crime prevention steps. Similarly, we want you to always check your bank statements for any inaccuracies or discrepancies, as credit card fraud may not be immediately apparent."
Cheshire Police is urging people to follow the advice below to protect themselves against this type of crime;
1. Do not leave your handbag hung over the shopping trolley or unattended at any time. Make sure your bag has a secure zip fastening and for added security, secure your purse inside a zipped pocket inside the bag to help protect against thieves reaching inside your bag or purse to search for valuables.
2. 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.
3. When using a chip & 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.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity or had any information should contact Cheshire Police on 101.
Alternatively information can be given anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.