Police hunt for supermarket thieves who stole £20,000 from shoppers

Police believe the two men pictured, working with others, have pocketed �20,000 by targeting supermarket shoppers. Picture: Sussex Police
Police believe the two men pictured, working with others, have pocketed �20,000 by targeting supermarket shoppers. Picture: Sussex Police

Police are warning people in Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton to be alert after thieves are thought to have stolen £20,000 from unwary shoppers.

Sussex Police believe the two men pictured, working with others, have taken nearly £20,000 from victims, including £282 from a customer at Sainsbury’s in Worthing on June 17.

Police think they have done it by watching shoppers enter their PIN numbers and then stealing their purses and wallets as they leave the store.

The suspects then withdraw large amounts of cash from nearby cash machines before the victims are aware.

The men in the photo, taken at Sainsbury’s in Worthing on June 20, are described by police as being of Eastern European appearance, one bald and the other with dark hair.

Investigator Kayleigh Bartup said: “We are also working with the large supermarket brands to raise awareness about these incidents among staff and customers. Be alert and aware of strangers when shopping in large supermarkets and never leave your bag or trolley unattended at any point. Try not to be distracted by strangers, and also be alert for any suspicious activity around your vehicle which you should keep secured.

“It appears that these men, and others, may strike up to twice a day in different towns, and then lay low for a while, so we need to maintain awareness even when there are no reports.”

Since November last year there have been several reports across Sussex:

Tesco in Lewes on November 19, 2016 - £1,360 obtained

Waitrose in Crowborough on January 19, 2017 - £900 obtained

Waitrose in Hove on January 19 – unsuccessful attempt

Sainsbury’s in East Grinstead on February 13 - £1,749 obtained

The Crown pub n East Grinstead on February 13 - £250 obtained by subsequent use of ATM at Sainsbury’s in Eastbourne

The Ship pub in East Grinstead on February 13 – £250 obtained by subsequent use of ATM at Sainsbury’s in Eastbourne

Waitrose in Hove on March 1 - £1,000 obtained

Waitrose in Lewes on March 2 - £1,000 obtained

Morrisons in Seaford on March 7 - £1,800 obtained

Morrisons in Seaford on March 11 – £1,100 obtained

Asda in Brighton on March 11 - £1,000 obtained

Waitrose in East Grinstead on May 9 - £27 obtained

Waitrose in Eastbourne on May 12 - £2,500 obtained

McDonalds in Burgess Hill on May 21 - £70 obtained

Sainsbury’s in East Grinstead on May 26 - £1,219 obtained

Waitrose in Hailsham on May 26 - £630 obtained

St Catherine’s Hospice shop, East Grinstead on May 26 - £240 obtained by subsequent use at ATMs at Halifax and Natwest in London Road, East Grinstead

Tesco in Uckfield on June 7 – unsuccessful attempt

Waitrose in Burgess Hill on June 8 - £900 obtained

Waitrose in Crowborough on June 10 - £50 obtained

Waitrose in Hove on June 17 - £3,500 obtained

Sainsbury’s in Chichester on June 19 – amount not confirmed

Sainsbury’s in Haywards Heath on June 22 – amount not confirmed

If you see anyone behaving suspiciously in this way, alert store security staff or dial 999.

Anyone who recognises the men or who has any further information is asked to contact Sussex Police via https://sussex.police.uk/appealresponse or call 101, quoting reference 47170066290