Police in North Herts are warning the public to be on their guard following a series of distraction thefts in supermarket car parks in the area. In each case the victims were loading shopping into their vehicles or returning trolleys when the distraction took place.

Offences have occurred in Royston, Baldock, Hitchin and Letchworth and include the car parks of Sainsburys, Waitrose and Tesco.

In each offence the victim has been distracted by someone claiming their car is damaged, so they have to get out of their car to have a look, or by someone needing help with car park charges or local information whilst the victim is returning their trolley. On each occasion the victim has later found their wallet or purse is missing from their car and, in some cases, that their cards have already been used.

The latest offence happened on Monday 20 March. A woman was using the car park of Waitrose in Hitchin, when she was told that her car had been scratched. She got out to have a look and when she got back into her car, her purse had gone.

Detective Inspector Ben Smith said: “We are asking for people to be on their guard in supermarket car parks and report any suspicious behaviour to us. The offenders seem to be using the ruse of damaged vehicles or needing information about car park charges or local services, to distract victims.

“It is possible that two offenders are working together and while one distracts the shopper, the other swipes the purse or wallet.

“Always keep your purse or wallet on your person until you are ready to drive away and never leave it unattended in your vehicle.”

You can report information online, speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat or call the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/22945/23.

Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form (Opens in a new window).  

To receive police messages about a range of topics including burglaries, scams and missing people in your local area, sign up to OWL (opens in a new window) or download the ‘OWL crime alerts’ app from your app store.

Leave a Reply