Thieves working together to distract and steal from debit-card users, police say

·2 min read
Police are warning Calgarians about 'distraction' thefts that have recently been targeting users of debit and credit cards. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)
Police are warning Calgarians about 'distraction' thefts that have recently been targeting users of debit and credit cards. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)

Calgary police say they are investigating a series of "distraction" thefts in the city, acts they believe are targeting debit- and credit-card users, often senior citizens.

In a release Monday, investigators said it starts with suspects observing people when they enter their PIN as they make purchases with their debit or credit card.

Police believe others then distract their target, creating the opportunity to steal the debit and credit cards.

"Following these thefts, victims have reported to police instances of fraudulent withdraws of cash using their debit or credit cards, with some transactions purchasing prepaid credit cards and other merchandise," police said.

Police cited several recent examples of what they believe were "distraction" thefts.

In one instance in March, a person was leaving the Costco at 75 East Hills Blvd. S.E. when he had cash and a credit card stolen from his wallet.

"It is believed four suspects worked together to distract the victim, removed his wallet from his pocket, removed contents from the wallet and then returned the wallet back to the victim's pocket," police said.

"Feeling something wasn't right, the victim checked his wallet and discovered his cash and credit cards missing and notified store staff, who then reported the incident to police."

In the past month, police say six additional distraction thefts have been reported to investigators.

Police say people can help protect themselves from such thefts by following these tips:

  • Shield the PIN pad when entering your PIN at any ATM, retail store or financial institution.

  • While at an ATM, or paying for merchandise, be aware of anyone standing nearby who can observe you entering your PIN.

  • If you encounter someone who says you have dropped money when you have not, or who is in extremely close proximity to you, go to a safe place and report the incident.

  • Trust your gut, if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.

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