OAPs warned as shoppers targeted
Police say the thieves believed to be from organised gangs are targeting female pensioners who place their bags in their trolleys as they walk around the aisles.
There have been at least seven such thefts in the past month around the Leith area. Local police and councillors fear eastern European gangs may be behind the thefts, after one Romanian man was identified as a suspect.
The thieves have either been distracting the victims, or stealing their bags when they turn away to select goods from the shelves. It is often only when the victims reach the checkout that they notice their bag is gone.
Pc John Pennycook, Leith Police community beat officer, urged shoppers to be extra vigilant.
He said: “Thieves targeted the handbags of elderly women shopping within supermarkets. In many of these cases the victims had left their handbags unattended in the shopping trolley while they were selecting goods to buy.
“In four of these cases no suspect was seen. However, in a further three instances the victims were distracted by the suspect only to discover the theft when attempting to pay for the goods. We will be working closely with the main supermarkets to encourage store staff to be more active in preventing such crimes.
“We take this opportunity to remind shoppers to be vigilant and make sure your handbag is properly closed. Do not leave it unattended and be aware of strangers distracting your attention.”
In one incident, a pensioner lost money after a thief was able to draw funds from a cash machine. It is understood the PIN may have been written on the card or on a slip of paper in the handbag.
Pc Pennycook warned: “Please remember not to write the PIN number for your bank cards down and when obtaining money or paying for goods do not let others see you enter your PIN.”
Leith councillor Gordon Munro said there had been concern in the area over Romanian gangs, although he stressed they had nothing to do with the area’s sizeable Polish community.
He said: “I think it’s important to point out that Air Max 2015 the Polish people have integrated very well in Leith and contributed very well to the community, they are not being linked to this at all.
“The thing about Leith is everyone knows everyone and looks out for each other that includes the Polish people now so when people come in with bad intentions they are driven out very quickly.”
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