An elderly man shopping at Waitrose in Chandler’s Ford was a victim in a string of distraction thefts of high-value Rolex wristwatches across Hampshire this year.
Hampshire Police are warning people to be on their guard after more than 30 such thefts, where thieves, posing as charity workers, have approached elderly people in supermarket car parks.
During each incident, the suspect has targeted elderly victims and pretended to ask them about a survey or a petition.
They often use a clipboard as a prop to make themselves appear genuine. In several cases they thieves say they are representing a children or deaf persons charity.
Once the survey has been completed, the suspects often compliment the victim and try to embrace them, with reports suggesting they may try to hug or kiss them.
It is during this time that the item, usually a watch, is removed using sleight of hand techniques.
Victims are predominantly targeted because they are wearing high value Rolex watches.
The Chandler’s Ford incident happened in Waitrose’s car park – which is not the first time distraction thieves have targeted shoppers at the Oakmount Road store – other incidents occurred at Waitrose car parks in Locks Heath and Yately.
In each case the victim was hugged after taking part in a survey and relieved of their wristwatch.
Police have issued the following advice:
- When you meet a fundraiser in person, check their credentials – street collectors should wear an ID badge that is clearly visible
- Most fundraising materials should feature a charity’s name, registration number and a landline phone number
- If in doubt, ask for more information – a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer your questions
- Register your property for free at immobilise.com
- Photograph each piece of valuable gold or jewellery against a plain background with a ruler next to it
- Keep a written description for each item
- Jewellery can be forensically marked with a suitable security product. Always take specialist advice before marking expensive or irreplaceable items. You can find out more about traceable liquids at securedbydesign.com
- Keep purses and bags closed and secure at all times
- Be aware of your surroundings and what is happening around you when you are out shopping
- Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest
- Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it
- Use a purse that’s difficult for others to open – one that zips or snaps shut is best
- Conceal your wallet in a buttoned or zipped pocket where it doesn’t bulge
- Don’t hang bags on the back of your chair or a pushchair
- Report suspicious activity in your area to police by calling 101 or online at hampshire.police.ukbut in an emergency, always call 999.
Anyone with information relating to any of the incidents above, should call 101