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Distraction Thefts in Woodley

Alert message sent 03/02/2022 17:39:00

Information sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police is issuing advice to local residents following a number of reported distraction thefts in the Woodley area.

Offenders appear to be targeting vulnerable and elderly individuals using distraction techniques to obtain their bank cards once they have entered their PIN.

Some of the techniques used by criminals are:
• Distracting victims at ATMs often by asking them questions, telling them they have dropped something, taking their card and subsequently using this to withdraw cash.
• Distracting victims at car park payment machines by engaging them in conversation, asking questions or advising they have dropped something.
• Distracting victims when loading shopping into their car by asking them to sign something, look at a map or claiming someone has damaged their car and asking them to look. While the victim is distracted, the offender takes their handbag or purse. These offenders often work in teams with one watching the victim inputting their pin in the supermarket and another distracting them in the car park.
• Purse dipping at supermarkets. Purses have been taken from handbags left on trolleys or by dipping into an open handbag.

Please be alert and aware of anyone near you when you are at an ATM, a payment machine or in a supermarket car park. Being aware of your surroundings and not distracted makes it harder for people to take advantage.
Offenders may watch as you key in your PIN or try to distract you while you are withdrawing cash. Please be vigilant. Always cover your PIN and keep an eye on your card at all times. If someone taps you on the shoulder, or tries to speak to you, just ignore them.

If you see or suspect that a crime is taking place, call the police on 999. If you have any information regarding these offences or witness any suspicious activity, please use our online reporting form at or call 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on free phone 0800 555 111.

Please share this information with friends and family members, especially if they are vulnerable or elderly.

Thank you.
Message sent by
Karen Collins (Police, Admin/Co-ordinator, Wokingham)

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