OPP warn of distraction thefts and jewellery fraud

Oct 1, 2012

ORILLIA, ON, Oct. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) remind the public and retail store owners to always ensure their personal safety and prevent becoming victims of theft and fraud.

There have been numerous complaints of distraction thefts in retail outlets and fraudulent or 'black market' street-level sales of merchandise, including jewellery, in several areas of Ontario in recent weeks. These incidents are not isolated. The suspects travel in groups using rented vehicles and are identifiable by the distinctive types and styles of clothing they wear which also assist with their crimes. Some victims have been defrauded for amounts ranging from a few hundred to up to five-thousand dollars ($5,000.00).

At a retail shopping check-out, a victim may use their debit card while the suspects are behind the victim to memorize the PIN number. Once outside, the victim is deliberately distracted while another suspect steals their wallet. In other retail locations, while a store employee is distracted by a suspect, another female suspect will hide items in pockets under a long, flowing skirt -- so-called "booster" skirts -- before exiting the store.

In incidents involving street-level sales, a suspect approaches a victim and offers them gold jewellery in memory of a dead relative, or as a gift. The suspect places the necklace on the victim, while removing the victim's own gold necklace. In other instances, one or more suspects approach a victim claiming they have a relative in need, and offer expensive-looking jewellery in exchange for money to help. The victim later discovers the jewellery is worthless.

OPP remind store employees and community members to be aware of these incidents.  If this type of group enters a store or if you have been approached by someone wanting to sell jewellery or other valuables, call police or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).


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SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police

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A/Sgt. Kelly Daniels-Griffis
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