Christmas shopping the perfect ‘cover’ for distraction thieves

Police warn of the ‘distraction theft’ methods being used by criminals.

AS MORAY RETAILERS are seeking a massive increase in footfall with Christmas approaching so criminals are seeking to take advantage of the situation.

Now local police are warning of the distraction and deception techniques being used to commit theft and fraud – with reports of such activities already coming in from throughout the region.

The North East Scotland Crime Reduction Unit has been engaging with businesses across the north-east to offer advice on how to safeguard different aspects of their operations over the busy festive period.

Constable Kev Marron of Police Scotland’s Crime Reduction Unit said: “When notes are tendered, recovered and then re-tendered it can be a deliberate ploy to pay a lesser amount for goods and takes advantage of retail staff being extremely busy and perhaps not wishing to delay a transaction with other persons queuing by counting notes accurately or for a second time.

“We advise all retail staff to be on guard when any transaction involves a customer taking back any amount of money tendered.

“Often this technique is accompanied by the person engaging the staff member in conversation in order to take their mind off counting the money or to distract them from what a second person may be doing in the store, especially if that person is standing near attractive or high value goods or near a Staff Only area.”

A recent example saw two men enter a shop with one asking the sales assistant for two high-value bottles of alcohol. He then appeared to change his mind and asked for a different high value bottle of alcohol instead.

Next he made various attempts to distract the sales assistant while the second man tried to steal items from behind the sales counter. The sales assistant on this occasion was alert and acted appropriately to avoid any loss.

Anyone who is aware of such incidents and has information that may be of assistance is being asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Also, any businesses that wish to receive crime prevention guidance they should dial 101 and ask to speak with their local Crime Reduction Officer.