Distraction/Sleight-of-Hand Thefts

(Bradford, ON) South Simcoe Police Service is reminding residents to be alert and protect themselves from distraction and sleight-of-hand thefts.

We recently responded to an incident where a man driving a vehicle with a woman and child on board attempted to sell jewelry to a passerby in the parking lot of the Bradford Walmart on Holland Street West. The driver claimed he had lost his wallet and needed money to get his family back to Montreal. Instead of buying what was cheap jewelry with an inflated value, the quick-thinking citizen called police. Officers were able to apprehend the vehicle nearby and charge the driver with Solicit in a Parking Lot under the Safe Streets Act and a number of Highway Traffic Act offences.

Distraction thefts are not new to our area but tend to occur more frequently in warmer weather. We encourage residents to be wary and follow these safety tips:

  • always protect your personal space
  • don’t let anyone help you try on merchandise as it may be a strategy for a distraction or sleight-of-hand trick
  • if you are approached in a parking lot by someone claiming your tire is flat, your vehicle is damaged or you have dropped money on the ground, immediately retrieve your wallet, turn off your vehicle and take your keys out of the ignition, as this may be a ploy to distract you in order to steal your purse, other items within your car or possibly your vehicle
  • if someone accidentally spills something on you, be alert and aware of the actions of people around you
  • keep purchases locked in the trunk of your vehicle
  • keep your personal items within eyesight while shopping and never turn your back on them in public
  • if you witness any suspicious people or activity, contact police immediately

South Simcoe Police Service officers are increasing patrols in a bid to stem these incidents. We need residents to do their part by being aware of their surroundings and employing a healthy dose of skepticism when approached by people selling jewelry or other items in parking lots. Trust your gut. If it feels suspicious, it probably is.