Vancouver Police are again warning the public to be wary of distraction thefts, after a 77-year-old senior was victimized by thieves while in her own backyard last weekend.

The senior was gardening at her home in the city’s Cedar Cottage neighbourhood at around 11 a.m. July 20, when a male and female drove up in an SUV. The female passenger got out, approached the victim, and forced several pieces of costume jewelry into her hands.

The victim resisted and told the woman to leave, then realized later that a gold bracelet had been removed from her wrist during the altercation.

“Distraction thieves work quickly and use the element of surprise to confuse their victims,” says Const. Steve Addison, VPD. “They’re successful because victims often don’t realize they’ve been scammed until much later.”

The suspects in this case were driving a dark four-door SUV. The female suspect was between 35 and 45 years old, about 5’3, with brown, shoulder-length hair, and olive skin. She wore a dark floral-patterned dress with sandals and bright red nail polish. The male driver appeared South Asian, with darker skin, and wore a black baseball cap, and polo shirt.

Detectives from VPD’s Major Crime Section are now investigating, and say this incident has similarities to previous distraction thefts.

In the past, thieves have targeted elderly men and women who have visible jewelry. One or two thieves typically approach a victim and overwhelm them by talking and placing fake jewelry around the victim’s head, neck or wrist. Sleight of hand techniques are then used to take off the victim’s own jewelry, replacing it with fake jewelry, before fleeing in a waiting vehicle driven by an accomplice.

Police are advising people to not permit anyone they do not know into their personal space, and to tell anyone who tries to give them jewelry or place jewelry on them, that they are not interested. If the situation escalates, they should draw attention and call 9-1-1 immediately.

Anyone with information about this distraction theft, or others, is asked to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.