Police are warning shoppers to be vigilant after a spate of distraction thefts in Stowmarket.
According to Suffolk Police, thieves have been targeting the elderly with 11 distraction thefts recorded in October and six in November, which they have described as a ‘hugely worrying trend’.
Suffolk police say they are unclear why the town is being targeted but have focused resources on the crime.
“It is a hugely worrying trend to have so many of these types of thefts in a short space of time,” said Acting Sergeant Stefan Henriksen.
“One or two people distract the victim by talking to them, while an accomplice steals their valuables, such a purse or mobile phone. It can happen in under 30 seconds and we don’t know yet if it is a gang or isolated incidents.
“We have been out in the community handing out warning posters and giving advice on how people can protect themselves.
“We have also been visiting town centre shops, residential homes, coffee mornings, sheltered accommodation and libraries, anywhere public might congregate to get the word out as quickly as we can.
“The thieves are deliberately targeting elderly, vulnerable people and it is particularly worrying coming up to Christmas when people will be carrying larger amounts of money and towns will be busier.”
Police say the thefts have occurred mainly in the town centre but have also been recorded in Needham Market.
Officers have been monitoring CCTV footage in a bid to catch the thieves.
They have also been handing out purse bells, which alert people if someone is trying to steal their purse or wallet,
“We don’t know why the thieves are targeting Stowmarket but are warning people in the town to be extra vigilant,” said Acting Sgt Henriksen. “We would also ask people to report any incidents as soon as they can so we can investigate
“One distraction theft is too many, and we are seeing are large number, in a short space of time.”
To report a crime, dial Suffolk Police on 101.
If approached, or suspect a crime may be in progress, dial 999.