August 23, 2019 3:44 pm
Updated: August 23, 2019 4:13 pm

Police in Vancouver, West Vancouver issue new distraction theft warnings

WATCH: A warning from Vancouver police about a series of disturbing crimes that have targeted seniors. Three victims have come forward so far and investigators fear there may be more. Jennifer Palma reports.

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Thieves across Metro Vancouver are using sleight of hand to steal valuable items from vulnerable victims, and police are sending a warning to seniors.

Vancouver police said Friday they’re investigating a new string of distraction thefts in the southern Fraserview and Kensington neighbourhoods.

According to police, a man and a woman were reported on Aug. 20 and 21 in a white vehicle, described as a sedan or SUV.

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READ MORE: 2 arrested in Vancouver after recent spike in distraction thefts

In all instances, the suspects called their victims over to their vehicle. When the victims approached, the suspects gave them fake jewelry while removing their real jewelry.

Police say three seniors have been targeted so far.

“Typically, they’ll use the element of surprise and overwhelm their victims by invading their personal space,” said Vancouver police Const. Steve Addison.

“Confusing them, attempting to place phony jewelry on them, whether it’s a necklace or a ring or a bracelet or something else, and in doing so they remove the legitimate jewelry from the victims.”

WATCH: (Aug. 3, 2018) Canada Line distraction thefts caught on camera

The suspects are described as a South Asian female, aged 30 to 35 years old, and a South Asian male with short black hair, aged 40 to 45 years old.

Police say there may be more victims out there, and are asking the public to come forward.

Vancouver’s warning came a day after West Vancouver sounded the alarm about a similar theft at the Caulfeild Village Shopping Centre parking lot on June 29.

READ MORE: Hold onto your jewelry: Police in Vancouver, Abbotsford warn of spike in ‘distraction thefts’

In that case, the male suspect pretended to return cash to the elderly victim, who opened his wallet. That’s when the suspect removed a debit card without the victim noticing.

West Vancouver police said the suspect likely watched the victim enter his debit card PIN moments before the theft.

They also believe the suspect is linked to a similar theft using the same method almost a year ago, also at the mall.

“Distraction thieves work quickly and often target vulnerable people such as seniors, who may be more easily confused,” Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said Thursday. “Unfortunately, the victims don’t realize that they’ve been targeted until much later, which is usually too late.”

The suspect in a West Vancouver distraction theft on June 29, 2019.

West Vancouver Police

The West Vancouver suspect is described as a dark-skinned male, aged 30 to 40 years old, with short black hair, glasses, and a white dress shirt and tie.

Anyone with information about any of these distraction thefts are asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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