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Busy parents distracted while shopping in Saanich, wallets lifted

Saanich police warn about presence of tag-team distraction thefts
Saanich police have identified these two men as potential suspects in a distraction theft incident at Uptown mall on Saturday (June 4). (Courtesy Saanich Police Department)

The so-called distraction theft theme saw two individuals have their wallets stolen in separate parking lot incidents in Saanich over the weekend, leaving police to issue a warning to parents shopping with children.

On Saturday (June 4) at 3 p.m. a woman had just returned to her vehicle with her young child after shopping at Uptown. As she began to leave her parking stall, a man knocked on her window to say there was something wrong with her tire. She got out to look and noticed some thumbtacks stuck in the tire. When she returned to her vehicle and began driving she noticed her wallet had been taken from the front passenger seat.

Saanich police reported that dashcam and surveillance footage from the mall confirmed two men appeared to be working together, with one distracting the driver while the other opened the passenger door and stole the wallet.

Similar circumstances played out on Friday at around noon in the Broadmead Shopping Centre, where a woman’s wallet was unknowingly removed from her purse while she was being distracted. Police are looking for suspects in this theft and believe the two incidents may be related, but are seeking more information from the June 3 incident to confirm.

“We believe they are watching for women carrying a purse or pack while returning to their vehicle, as they know it will be left unattended inside while they distract them,” said Saanich police Const. Markus Anastasiades. “We encourage anyone that has had something similar happen to call their local police to report it. We have seen these types of organized thefts occurring across the country in the past few months and suspect that they will continue.”

The suspects from the Uptown theft were captured by surveillance cameras. Anyone who can identify either man is asked to call Saanich police at 250-475-4321, or report what you know anonymously by calling Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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