Vancouver police warn about distraction thefts after 77-year-old woman robbed in Cedar Cottage

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      After a senior was robbed by a thief in her own backyard last weekend in East Vancouver, police are warning the public about distraction thefts.

      Around 11 a.m. on July 20, a 77-year-old woman was gardening in her backyard in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood when a male driver with a female passenger drove up in an SUV.

      After the female passenger exited the vehicle, she approached the woman in her backyard and forced several pieces of costume jewelry into her hands.

      The victim resisted and told the female to leave. However, the woman later discovered that her gold bracelet had been removed from her wrist during the altercation.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) stated in a news release that the suspects were using a dark four-door SUV.

      The female suspect is described as being between 35 and 35 years old, is about 160 centimetres (five-feet, three-inches) tall with brown, shoulder-length hair and olive skin. She was wearing a dark floral-pattern dress with sandals and bright red nail polish.

      The driver is described as a South Asian male with darker skin who was wearing a black baseball cap and a polo shirt.

      This distraction place took place after several other similar thefts have taken place in Vancouver and Richmond.

      In March, the VPD arrested 41-year-old Elena Ghiocel and 31-year-old Constantin Miclescu of Scarborough, Ontario, who were charged with theft and possession of stolen property after six distraction thefts took place in South Vancouver on March 20 and 21. 

      After a series of thefts had been taking place at Vancouver International Airport since March, Richmond YVR RCMP arrested 60-year-old Miriam Fajardo, as she was stealing a purse from a passenger on April 17.

      Investigators had stated in April that Fajardo had been believed to be operating with an organized group of thieves who travel to various airports.

      The VPD stated in their news release that distraction thefts usually involve one or two thieves approaching a victim and overwhelming them by talking and placing fake jewelry around the victim’s head, neck, or wrist.

      The thieves employ sleight-of-hand techniques to remove jewelry from the victim, then replacing it with fake jewelry, before escaping in an awaiting vehicle driven by an accomplice.

      Police advise citizens to not allow anyone they don’t know into their personal space, and to tell anyone who tries to give them jewelry or place jewelry on them that they are not interested.

      If the situation escalates, they should try to draw attention and call 911 immediately.

      Anyone with information about the Cedar Cottage distraction theft or others is asked to call the VPD at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook