Waterloo Regional Police Service have issued an alert after receiving several reports of distraction theft-related incidents at grocery stores within the region.
Between February 9 and 21, eight reports were received from victims who have had their wallets or purses stolen after being distracted by small talk or questions in a store or shortly after exiting a grocery store.
In one instance, a victim was shopping at a store in the area of Ottawa Street North and Lackner Boulevard in Kitchener when an unknown suspect asked them about a food product. When the victim turned back towards their shopping cart, their purse was unzipped and their wallet was gone. The victim’s stolen credit card was then used to make multiple purchases, totaling approximately $3,500.
While these fraudsters will take advantage of anyone, it appears that the suspects are targeting females over the age of 70.
Waterloo Regional Police are reminding the public to be cautious and protect themselves by following these tips:
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Shield your PIN as you make a purchase or cash withdrawal at an ATM
- If someone appears suspicious and randomly tries to engage in a conversation, pay close attention to your property
- If someone is crowding you in a checkout line, don’t be afraid to ask them to respect your space
- If you are unnecessarily bumped or crowded, be aware that a distraction theft might be occurring and check your valuables
- Keep your personal items within your eyesight while shopping, and do not leave any items unattended
- Be cautious if someone offers to help you bag or carry items you have purchased
- Report any suspicious activity to police
If you have been a victim of a distraction theft and have not yet reported the incident to police, please do so by calling 519-570-9777. If you have any information regarding any fraudulent activity, please report it to police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
4:55 PM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to a collision in the area of Chilligo Road in Woolwich Township. The driver lost control of their vehicle and struck a pole, and was subsequently taken to hospital with minor injuries. Road conditions are believed to have been a contributing factor.
9:10 PM |Waterloo Regional Police responded to a report of a robbery at a convenience store in the area of Victoria Street North and Shantz Station Road in Woolwich Township. An unknown male entered the store brandishing a knife and demanded cash from the store employee. The male then fled the store. The employee did not sustain any physical injuries. Police believe the incident is connected to a robbery a bit earlier in the evening at a convenience store in North Dumfries Township. The suspect in both incidents was described as a white male, approximately 5’10”, with an average build. Anyone with information is asked to call the WRPS Robbery Unit at 519-570-9777, ext. 8255. To provide anonymous information, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit online at www.waterloocrimestoppers.com.
8:54 AM | Police received a report of a break and enter to a storage unit on Bonnie Crescent in Elmira. Through investigation, police determined that sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. the previous day, two unknown suspects gained access to five storage containers in an unfenced compound and stole property. The suspects are believed to have been operating an older model Ford Mustang. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police. Anonymous tips can be provided to Waterloo Region Crime Stoppers.
10:52 AM | Police received a report of a theft from a motor vehicle in Woolwich Township. Sometime during the overnight hours, an unknown suspect entered an unlocked vehicle parked in a driveway on Water Street and stole personal property. Anyone with information is asked to call police. Anonymous tips can be provided to Waterloo Region Crime Stoppers.