Police in Saanich are seeking the public’s help after a “distraction theft” scheme saw thieves snatch wallets from women at separate parking lots in recent days.
On Saturday, June 4th at around 2 p.m., a woman had just returned to her vehicle with her young child after shopping at Uptown Shopping Centre, according to Saanich PD.
As she started backing out of her parking spot, a man reportedly knocked on her window claiming something was wrong with her tire—when she got out to look, she found thumbtacks jammed inside.
But it wasn’t until the woman got back into her vehicle and began to drive away that she noticed her wallet in the front passenger seat was gone, police say.
After reviewing surveillance footage, police discovered two men were working together in the theft—as one distracted the woman, the other opened her passenger door and stole her wallet.
Concerned neighbour speaks out
Later that day, a woman took to social media claiming her neighbour was robbed by two men at Uptown. Her post, shared nearly 1,000 times, urges people to “be careful if you plan to go out with your children alone.”
“It is unsure if they pray on women at a specific location or if they are doing it all around the Victoria area,” she wrote on Facebook.
It follows a similar incident in the Broadmead Shopping Centre parking lot on Friday, June 3rd—as a woman was being distracted, her wallet was stolen from her purse.
Officers think the two thefts may be connected but are awaiting further evidence to confirm the suspects are, in fact, the same.
“We encourage anyone that has had something similar happen to call their local police to report it,” added Saanich PD Const. Markus Anastasiades.
“We have seen these types of organized thefts occurring across the country in the past few months and suspect that they will continue.”
Investigators warn the public these thefts are happening locally and hope to identify the suspects, sharing images captured during the Uptown incident.
Anyone who can identify either suspect is asked to call Saanich Police at (250) 475-4321. To remain anonymous, tipsters can contact Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.