Police have released footage of a distraction scam being carried out in order to raise shopper vigilance
Shocking CCTV footage of a supermarket distraction scam has been released by police to highlight the crime.
Hampshire Constabulary is investigating a series of incidents where shoppers have been duped in car parks by people asking for directions and showing them a map.
The footage shows how the offender distracts a female shopper to allow an accomplice to enter her car and steal from her bags.
The stolen cards are then used to withdraw money or buy high value items, often before the victim has even realised their personal property has been taken.
Other similar techniques have been used to distract shoppers, including asking for directions, a need to go to hospital or asking if people have dropped money.
Police in the county have received 55 reports of this type of crime from across the Northern Policing Area, which includes Winchester and East Hampshire, Hart and Rushmoor.
Crime prevention advisor Graeme Barbour said: “People who have fallen victim to this type of crime have also reported seeing people behaving suspiciously in supermarkets.
"This could be where offenders are watching shoppers entering PIN codes when paying for their shopping.
“If you notice people acting suspiciously inside supermarkets or you are approached by someone in a car park, please report it to police as soon as possible.
“These people are knowingly preying on people’s goodwill and helpful nature and are intentionally targeting lone shoppers at supermarkets, causing a distraction which allows another member of the group to commit the theft."
Mr Barbour warned to be cautious if approached in this way, adding: "Not everyone asking for directions is a criminal, and if you choose to help it is your decision to do so.
"However, if you do, before you help please ensure your vehicle is locked and all your valuables are on your person or locked in your vehicle out of sight.”