Police have received information that a crime group involved in distraction thefts and robberies is planning on coming to the Vancouver area.

These groups often travel from city to city and province to province to commit their crimes. The Vancouver Police have not had any recent distraction robberies reported, but are concerned about the information and believe we may again start seeing these incidents.

Thieves involved in this activity target victims who are wearing gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings. In many cases, the victims targeted have been elderly men and women from the Asian, South Asian and Italian communities.

Victims are approached by one or two strangers who overwhelm them by talking and placing fake jewellery around the victim’s head, neck or wrist. The thief will use slight-of-hand techniques to remove the victim’s own jewellery and leave the fake jewellery in its place. The thief will flee in a waiting rental vehicle being driven by an accomplice.

Investigators are working with other police agencies in the Lower Mainland and other major cities across Canada in an attempt to identify and arrest individuals responsible for these crimes.

The Vancouver Police Department would like to remind the public of the following tips:

  • if you wear jewellery in public, conceal valuable items under your clothing
  • don’t allow anyone you don’t know into your personal space
  • clearly tell anyone who tries to give you jewellery or place jewellery on you that you are not interested, and for them to leave you alone
  • draw attention to the situation
  • call 9-1-1 and report the crime to police immediately

Twenty-five-year-old Vasile Oinescu, 31-year-old Ion Mustata, and 41-year-old Floarea Ghiocel are currently wanted by Vancouver Police and have outstanding warrants for their arrest connected to these types of crimes. It is not known if they are travelling with the group believed to be headed to Vancouver.