The Crime Prevention Website

Back on 7th August I ran a story entitled Preventing theft from the handbag where I offered a few tips about how to keep safe.  One of the advice points was: Don’t invite thieving fingers and this is what I said:

When the purse goes back into the handbag then the handbag should be fastened or zipped up so that the easy dip can’t happen.  If the handbag has a flap that goes over the top of the bag hold the bag so that the flap’s fastening is towards your body.  And gentlemen should put their wallet into an inside jacket pocket (ones with zips are especially good) or into a front pocket of their trousers – not the back pocket, especially when the top of the trousers or jeans is visible and the bulge in the pocket is for all to see!  Ladies and gentlemen should be very aware of being stopped in the street by someone wanting change or otherwise asking you something that makes you take your wallet out or undo your handbag.

So I was particularly struck by this incident, again reported by West Mercia Police, this time occurring in Kidderminster

An elderly woman from Kidderminster foiled an attempt to steal her credit card when a would-be thief tried to distract her while asking for change.

The man was sitting on a seat by the bus stop in Oxford Street at 1pm on Friday (16 August) when he started talking in an Eastern European accent to a woman in her 80s, then produced a £10 note and asked her to change it, indicating he needed a £5 note.

He was persistent despite her taking cash out of her wallet and finding no £5 notes.

The man was then interrupted by a passer-by who told him to leave the woman alone [Good for you!], at which point the pensioner realised that he was holding one of her credit cards after somehow taking it from her purse. She grabbed her card back and walked off, leaving him still sitting there.

He was described as white, aged between 20 and 30, under six feet tall and with a broad build. He had very short black hair and wore a cream and grey hooded top, dark trousers and trainers.

PC Niki Deakin said: “Nothing was stolen during the incident but it’s typical for distraction thieves to prey on elderly people and he may have been waiting there at the bus stop for a target.

“We’d like to hear from anyone who can help us identify this man or has any other information that could help our inquiry.

“The fact that he was able to remove the credit card from the woman’s purse without her seeing that suggests he knew exactly what he was doing and people need to be aware of this type of approach and to be on their guard.”

Witnesses or anyone with information can contact PC Deakin at Kidderminster Police Station on 101, quoting incident reference 329-S-160813. Details may also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

So if you’re about to write a newsletter for your Neighbourhood Watch or local community please could you find space to say a little something about this erroneous crime where the elderly are invariably the target.  Thank you very much.

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