This is how distraction thieves are targeting women at supermarkets

Incidents have been reported in Crawley, Haywards Heath and Hove <i>(Image: PA/Unsplash)</i>
Incidents have been reported in Crawley, Haywards Heath and Hove (Image: PA/Unsplash)

Shoppers are being urged to be vigilant to supermarket distraction thefts are a series of incidents.

Police are urging people in Sussex to stay alert as they are investigating a number of linked reports of elderly and vulnerable women having their bank cards and money stolen from them.

Incidents have been reported across Sussex, including in Crawley, Hove, Horsham, Haywards Heath and Rustington.

In each case, a person has watched the victim enter their PIN number at the checkout before sending a description of the victim to a second person waiting in the car park.

That person then distracts the victim while they are unpacking their shopping, allowing another suspect to steal purses and bank cards from the victim’s handbag.

In most cases, the handbag was left meaning the victims did not notice their purses or cards were missing until they get home.

By this time, money has already been withdrawn from their account.

Enquiries into the reported offences are ongoing.

With the busy Christmas shopping period ahead, officers are urging others to be alert to any suspicious activity in shops and supermarkets.

Shoppers are encouraged to check their surroundings before entering their PIN codes, always cover the keypad, and keep a close eye on any handbags or valuables while in public places.

If you have any information relating to these or similar offences you can call 101 or visit the Sussex Police website.