Distraction Thefts at ATMs

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 2:03 p.m. December 7, 2015

Police are encouraging citizens to be alert following a series of distraction thefts in 41 Division in the last two weeks.

Two men in overhead security camera images
Two men suspected of committing distraction thefts along Victoria Park Ave.

Between November 18 and December 2, suspects have targeted four seniors on Victoria Park Ave. between Ellesmere Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E.

It’s reported suspects monitor citizens using ATMs. As the victim enters their car, a suspect knocks on the back window, indicating there is something under the car. When the unsuspecting victim takes a look under their car, a suspect enters the car and steals their wallet, including their debit and credit cards.

The suspects then withdraw money using the stolen credit cards.

Investigators believe there may be other victims and are encouraging them to contact police.

“We want people, especially seniors, to be cautious when using their debit/credit cards or ATMs,” said, Detective Kyle Paterson. “PINs should be hidden when being inputted and any suspicious activity should be reported to police.”

On December 6, officers in the Division arrested a woman who stole a necklace the same day from a senior.

“Our officers are doing their investigation to find out if she’s involved in any way in the incidents involving the debit and credit cards,” said Superintendent John Tanouye.

Constable Mark McCabe, a Crime Prevention Officer in  41 Division, said suspects usually target  female seniors who are alone. 

“Victims may be approached while they are on their own property and the suspect, usually a female, begins a conversation with the senior,” he said. “Conversations range from asking for directions and saying the victim reminds them of a deceased member to offering a blessing or simply asking the victim to buy jewelry.

“The suspect may kiss the victim’s hand or give the victim a hug and, while doing that, the suspect removes the victim’s necklace or bracelet and, at the same time, places fake jewelry around the victim's wrist or neck.”

McCabe is urging members of the public to maintain their personal space and don’t allow people to touch them.

“If you are wearing jewelry, try to keep it concealed while in public and make sure it is securely fastened,” he added.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (416) 808-4100, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

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