Rise in thefts at supermarket car parks
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We are urging people to be on their guard following an increase in distraction thefts involving expensive watches over the last few weeks.
A number of thefts and robberies have taken place in supermarket car parks across the county, with fraudsters targeting elderly people and pretending they are collecting for charity, asking them to sign a petition or asking for sponsorship. Other approaches have included saying something is wrong with their car. On a number of occasions, the thieves have grabbed their victims or tried to hug or kiss them.
Thieves have got away with cash, jewellery and it appears that they have also been deliberately targeting people wearing Rolex or expensive watches, sometimes stealing these without the victim’s immediate knowledge.
Investigating officer Elloise Pepperrell said: “We have seen an increase in these types of incidents over the last few weeks which have been taking place in supermarket car parks and outside shops across Surrey, with offences reported in West Byfleet, Farnham, Dorking, Lightwater and Cobham. The thieves are deliberately targeting elderly people, as well as those wearing expensive jewellery and watches.
"These incidents are extremely distressing for the victims, not least of which is that many of them involve physical contact at a time when we are supposed to be observing social distancing guidelines. On some occasions, force has also been used, with the victims being grabbed.
"Offences have also taken place across Sussex and Thames Valley and we are actively working with our colleagues in these force areas to identify the offenders responsible and ensure they are brought to justice.
"We are urging people to remain on their guard at all times and to not get involved in conversations with people they don’t know.
If you believe you have been the victim of a similar offence and you have any information which could assist our enquiries, we would ask you to get in touch with us as soon as possible”.
Anyone with information that they believe could assist the investigation is asked to contact us by using the live chat function on the Surrey Police website (surrey.police.uk) or through a direct message on Facebook or Twitter which will put you in direct contact with a call handler, quoting reference number PR/45210008882. Alternatively, if you do not wish to leave your name, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
A number of arrests have been made in connection with these offences, including:
A 25-year-old woman of no fixed address (released on conditional bail);
A 34-year-old woman from Slough (released on conditional bail);
A 27-year-old man of no fixed address (released on conditional bail).