Warning by Cobourg Police

This message needs to be circulated:

The Cobourg Police Service (CPS) is alerting the public after receiving reports of distraction thefts in Cobourg and neighbouring communities.

In one instance reported to police, a man approached a woman in a parking lot of a north-end business and asked her for directions. While the woman assisted the man, another person entered her vehicle and stole her bank and credit cards from her purse.

In another instance, two men approached a woman loading her vehicle. One man told the woman he thought something might be wrong with her tire, while the other man entered the car and removed a wallet from a purse on the passenger seat.

Distraction theft is when someone steals while a victim’s attention is directed elsewhere.

Distraction thieves often work in teams and have been known to approach victims in parking lots, offering or asking for assistance. The suspect may claim your vehicle has been damaged, that you have dropped something, or ask for directions. While distracted, an accomplice steals wallet, purse, or valuables from a vehicle or an open purse or bag over the victim’s shoulder.

In other instances of distraction theft, thieves may steal valuables from an unsuspecting victim while browsing in a store or checking out.

Victims may not realize until later that their property has been taken. Take steps to protect yourself from distraction theft.

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • If someone appears suspicious and randomly tries to engage in a conversation, pay close attention to your property.
  • Be cautious if someone offers to help you bag or carry items you have purchased.
  • Always lock your vehicle doors.
  • Keep your purse or wallet secured and with you.
  • Keep your personal items within your eyesight while shopping, and do not leave any items unattended.
  • Lock purchases in the trunk of your car. Do not leave them in plain sight.
  • Have your keys ready – don’t spend time fumbling for them
  • Report any suspicious activity to police.

If you realize that you have been a victim or witness of distraction theft and the suspect is still there or in sight, call 9-1-1 immediately. (Above is on Police web site here).

In addition to the Police message, here is another message being circulated:

I was at lunch today with some lady friends. One of them told of an incident in the Metro parking lot. Apparently two men seem to follow her out of the supermarket. As she went to get into her car one of them said to her that he thought there was something wrong with her front tire. While she was looking apparently the other one opened the passenger door to where her purse was and took her wallet. She did not know this had happened until she got to the next store and went to pay for something.

Another lady said this happened to her as well. A third lady said she was accosted by a woman who wanted to help her load her car with her groceries – three times she said no go away but the woman didn’t until the third time and then finally left. There were a couple of more stories but it seems that there are people out there at this time of year stealing and when your wallet is stolen then you have to replace everything and cancel everything and so on.

This e-mail is just to say be careful and don’t just toss your purse onto the passenger seat while you’re getting yourself organized to get in the car. Don’t talk to strangers. Lock your car doors as soon as you get in.

It’s not just on-line scams that are happening, it’s also these kinds of things we need to be aware of.

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1 year ago

Its very sad that this is happening. Something like this happened to me this weekend in the metro parking lot. Luckily, I had a friend sitting in the back seat as they attempted to open my passenger door.

ruby begonia
1 year ago

I often see ladies shopping with their purse in the child seat of the shopping cart AND an overstuffed wallet perched on the purse, not IN the purse – an easy grab and run for thieves. Never leave carts unattended – in one case, a lady had left her cart (including her purse) while she walked a good 10-15 steps down the aisle, her back to the cart, totally concentrating on her search for a specific item. When I made a comment about it to her, she snapped at me, mumbling about not being able to trust anyone! Sigh!!
BTW, I got rid of my wallet years ago and now carry a purse that has a slotted section for cards and a zippered closing. The purse could also be a cross body type leaving you fully in control of its whereabouts and contents.

1 year ago

These sort of thefts and local B & E s have been getting worse in Cobourg for quite some time
It just doesn’t hit the papers any more .The Police don’t usually release this info . The local shop owners have not had much success with the Police catching up or showing up quick enough to anyone situation based on security cameras & calls . The Third st Condo Building s
have now retained private policing and K 9 security teams to patrol their properties , Lobbies , underground parking lots etc , etc May be they can have their Property Taxes reassessed now
to accommodate & recapture some of the costs & losses !

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Sandpiper
1 year ago

I believe there is a valid reason for the condo decision on 3rd Street as there were reported strangers in the underground parking lot.

Small town lover
1 year ago

I think it’s time for these stores to provide security cameras or a security guard to deter these criminals. Even if it’s just for the busy Christmas season. They appear to be cowards and just targeting women and the elderly and they have been very successful doing it so they are going to continue.

Constance Mealing
Reply to  Small town lover
1 year ago

I have noticed when shopping that many women leave their purses on the cart while looking for or getting items off the shelves.

Liz U
Reply to  Small town lover
1 year ago

I carry a wallet only that fits in the inside pocket of my jacket. And it is worth it to sew a suitable pocket inside your jacket if it doesn’t have one or get a dressmaker to do it and leave the purse at home or locked desk drawer when shopping. As I have gotten older I find it is easier to shop when you are un encumbered by a flapping purse.