Pensioner’s warning after falling prey to distraction thieves

Lidl in Littlehampton. Picture: Derek Martin
Lidl in Littlehampton. Picture: Derek Martin
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A pensioner who said she ‘felt sick’ after her cards were stolen in a burglary spree has warned others to be vigilant.

Sussex Police issued a witness appeal after a string of distraction burglaries were reported in shop car parks.

Four incidents were reported to police on Saturday, March 4, where two eastern European men with foreign accents asked elderly or lone women for directions. While the victims helped one man, the other reportedly took cards from their handbags, or bags left in vehicles.

The incidents were at 11.10am at the Lidl car park in North Street, Worthing, at 12.15pm at the Lidl car park in New Road, Littlehampton, at 1.10pm at Halfords car park in Rowan Way, Bognor Regis and at 1.55pm on Wessex Avenue, also in Bognor Regis.

One victim spoke to the paper about her ordeal, but wished to remain anonymous as she feared the men might come to her home address.

She said the two men asked her and her husband for directions to a railway station – at which point one of the men stood very close to her.

It was only when she visited another shop that she realised her card wallet had been stolen. She said: “I’m really scared. I just feel sick; really, truly sick. I have never had anything like that happen to me before.

“I didn’t feel anything; they are so clever. How they opened my bag and undid a zip I don’t know. I never heard it or felt it at all.”

Sussex Police investigator Daniel Turk said people should never leave bags on a trolley unattended, and should ensure the bag is zipped up.

He said: “When putting shopping away in the boot of your vehicle always keep your handbag or wallet with you and if you are distracted for even a moment while putting shopping away keep handbags with you or lock them in the vehicle before speaking to or helping anyone.

“If asked for directions or to look at maps ensure you lock personal items in the vehicle first and when filling up with fuel, lock your vehicle while fuelling, and when you go to pay.”

Witnesses can call 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting 596 of 05/03 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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