Swanley businesses among 15 targeted by distraction thieves
PUBLISHED: 17:29 11 August 2011
The business community is being warned to be vigilant as police released these CCTV images of two women wanted in connection with a series of 15 distraction thefts in shops and offices.
Mobile phones and cash have been stolen during incidents in Swanley, Edenbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Westerham, Sevenoaks and Larkfield.
Many of the victims described the offenders as two women of dark European appearance, who distract their victims by conversation or by asking to swap money from the till. Offences of this nature have been reported to police since mid March and two occurred on August 10.
Investigating officer DC Matthew Hulbert said: “These are crimes of opportunity and we want to warn businesses, not to give these offenders the opportunity they are looking for. I would warn cashiers to be especially vigilant when asked to change money or when engaged in conversation, as a means of distraction.
“The offenders may even go to the lengths of using flyers or obscuring the view of staff, but if you are in any way suspicious of their behaviour I would urge you to contact police immediately.”
One recent case on July 31, occurred at Osborns newsagent in London Road, Tunbridge Wells where two women have asked the cashier to change notes from the till. In doing so, the employee was distracted while they stole his mobile phone and also managed to take £100 from the cash register, as money was passed back and forth.
Officers are taking the step of releasing the CCTV footage of this incident in a bid to bring forward information about the offenders and to warn other businesses to be vigilant of the scam.
Anyone with information about the incident at Osborns newsagents or any similar offence is asked to contact police in Tonbridge on 01732 379217.