Rise in distraction jewelry thefts prompts warning from police

Be wary of engaging in conversation with ‘overly friendly’ strangers who approach you, advise the York Regional Police

York Regional Police remind residents to be careful when speaking with strangers following recent jewelry ‘distraction’ thefts in Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

In some incidents, suspects engaged victims in conversation and placed a necklace or a bracelet around the victim’s neck or wrist while at the same time removing the valuable necklace or bracelet the victim had been wearing. The suspects then leave the area and it is only later that the victims realize their valuable jewelry was stolen, according to a news release.

In other incidents, a male driver and a female passenger approach the victims and ask for directions. Once directions are given, the suspects tell the victim they want to give them a gift, which is a fake gold chain. The female suspect may hug the victim and swap the fake gold chain for the real jewelry worn by the victim.

York Regional Police is reminding citizens to be cautious and protect themselves by following these tips:

  • Be cautiously engaging in conversation with strangers who approach you in public;
  • Be wary of people being overly friendly or asking for directions;
  • Keep your valuables in a safe place and secure location that would be difficult for someone to access;
  • If you witness any suspicious people or activity, contact the police immediately. We will respond to these calls;
  • Criminals are opportunists. Don’t give them the opportunity to make you a victim of crime.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police #4 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7445, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips, or leave an anonymous tip online.

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