A spate of distraction thefts in public and supermarket car parks occurred across the Newhaven, Seaford and Lewes last month.
They are a technique used by a group of offenders who prey on elderly or lone shoppers.
Techniques used include claiming the victim has a nail in their car tyre. They ask the victim to get out of their car to check – and an accomplice steals belongings. Another is asking for directions, or if people have dropped money.
Police have urged the public to take sensible precautions when helping others in public places.
These include never leaving your bag on a shopping trolley unattended, and ensure the bag is zipped up.
When putting shopping away in the boot of your vehicle always keep your handbag/wallet with you and if you are distracted for even a moment whilst putting shopping away keep handbags with you or lock them in the vehicle before speaking to/helping anyone.
If asked for directions or to look at maps/items ensure you lock personal items in the vehicle first and when filling up with fuel, lock your vehicle while fuelling, and when you go to pay.
If you are approached by anyone suspicious, report it to the police as soon as possible.
Police said: “Thieves know all the tricks, and all the hiding places. They know where to look – it takes them seconds to relieve you of your goods, money, possessions or bags.”
If you believe you saw or heard anything related to these type of incidents or have seen anything suspicious please call Sussex Police on 101 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.