East end distraction thefts has police cautioning seniors

OTTAWA – A string of east end distraction thefts has Ottawa police warning seniors to keep their eyes on the prize.

“The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) East Criminal Investigation Unit is investigating a number of distraction thefts throughout the east end of Ottawa targeting seniors,” the OPS released in a statement Friday (July 26). “These thefts occur near retail locations in the east end of Ottawa and investigators have identified 30 known cases in the past few months.”

Victims are approached by the suspects in public areas and parking lots. The suspect(s) offer a form of assistance to the targeted victims, such as an offer to help carry purchases, state the victim dropped money or point out an issue with the victim’s vehicle. While the victim is distracted the suspects either steal their debit or credit cards or forcefully remove the victim’s jewellery, depending on the circumstances.

“The suspects appear to work in groups of two or more and are a combination of male and female,” the OPS said. “Ottawa Police are reminding people to remain vigilant as a potential victim or witness to their surroundings and immediately report any similarly suspicious encounters to the OPS. Please remember to hide your PIN when using your debit or credit cards, lock your vehicle with your keys in hand even if you step away from it 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.

For more information on theft prevention tips see commons scams crime prevention for seniors.