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Purse snatching scammers target North Shore parking lots

Similar ‘distraction’ thefts have recently been reported across Metro Vancouver
Police warn shoppers not to leave valuables unattended in their vehicles, even for a brief moment. | North Shore News

Police on the North Shore are warning residents about a recent purse-snatching scam that has resulted in purses being stolen in plain sight.

One woman fell victim to the scheme Jan. 26 in the parking lot of Caulfeild Shopping Centre.

A woman who was getting into her car was approached by a man who told her she had a flat tire on the passenger side of her vehicle, according to Sgt. Mark McLean of the West Vancouver Police Department.

But when she walked around to look, “There was no flat tire,” said McLean.

In the brief time it took for the woman to check, however, her purse – which had been in the open vehicle – vanished.

North Vancouver RCMP said a similar incident was reported the same day at Capilano Mall in North Vancouver.

In that case, the victim was distracted by two thieves and they stole her wallet, said Const. Mansoor Sahak, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP.

“We are aware it’s happening throughout the Lower Mainland,” said McLean.

“It’s the same MO. We suspect it’s the same group responsible.”

Usually, one of the thieves will point out an alleged mechanical problem on a vehicle. When the driver goes to take a look, an accomplice quickly swipes any purse or wallet left unguarded in the open vehicle.

McLean warns drivers not to leave any valuables unsecured in their vehicle, even for a brief period.