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Police warning about 'distraction thefts,' after 10 cases in Ottawa

Officers say the suspect offers a form of assistance to a targeted victim, and then attempts to steal their debit or credit cards while the person is distracted.
2018-12-12 ottawa police headquartersmv2
Ottawa Police Service headquarters. Mike Vlasveld/ OttawaMatters

The Ottawa Police Service is investigating a number of 'distraction thefts' throughout the city, which target mostly the local senior population. 

Officers say victims are approached by suspects in public areas and parking lots near retail outlets. A suspect then offers a form of assistance to the targeted victims, such as an offer to help carry bags, tell the victim that they dropped money or point out an issue with the victim's vehicle. While the victim is distracted the suspects then try to steal the victim's debit or credit cards.

Investigators are looking into 10 known cases of distracted theft since Monday. Most of the incidents are happening between noon and 4 p.m. 

The suspects appear to work in groups of two or more, and are a combination of men and women.

Ottawa police are reminding people to remain vigilant as a potential victim or witness to their surroundings and immediately report any similarly suspicious encounters. Residents are also reminded to hide their PIN numbers when using debit or credit cards, and lock their vehicles with their keys in hand, even if they're just stepping away for a brief period.

Anyone with information about this type of distraction thefts can contact the Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300. 

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or by downloading the Ottawa Police app.


Mike Vlasveld

About the Author: Mike Vlasveld

Mike Vlasveld, Village Media Community Editor,
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