Victoria Police are investigating a “distraction technique” debit card theft which resulted in a Victoria woman losing $1,600 and police say they were struck by how quickly the culprits had moved.

The woman had just finished shopping at Thrifty Foods and had departed the store, when two men approached her and asked for directions to Royal Jubilee Hospital.

One of the men was holding a map of Victoria and stood close to the woman wanting her to show him the location of the hospital on the map.

While she was pointing to the map, the woman felt a “nudge” on her side where the other man was standing.

When she turned to look at this second man, he was standing what she described as “uncomfortably close” to her and he quickly turned away.

After getting directions, both men said “goodbye” and left the area.

About 45 minutes later, the woman realized that her debit cards were missing, but thought that she may have misplaced them.

She only realized what had happened when she checked her online banking and found 3 transactions, totaling over $1,600, made just a few minutes after she had left the Hillside Shopping Centre. She cancelled the cards and phoned police.

The fraudulent purchases were made in two different stores; police won’t say which ones. The purchases were not made online.

Police are asking anyone who might have seen the men asking for directions or who were approached themselves or who had a similar experience at the Thriftys store at the Hillside Shopping Centre to contact them.

They are described as Caucasian men in their 40s, standing between 5’6” and 5’10” tall, both with average builds.  At the time of the incident, one man was wearing a leather jacket and a leather cap, and had an eastern-European accent.

The other man was wearing a grey toque and longer grey jacket. The incident occurred on February 06, 2016.

Police have been investigating the case for the past 10 days trying to determine how, when and where the woman’s personal identification number (PIN) was obtained so that the stolen cards could be used.
If you have any information, or know who these men are, please call the VicPD non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654. To report what you know anonymously, please call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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