Distraction thefts in Uckfield and Crowborough prompt police warning

Police are asking elderly shoppers to be wary of thieves distracting supermarket shoppers in Uckfield and Crowborough.

The thefts happened at Waitrose in Crowborough on January 12 and again on March 12; Morrison’s in Crowborough on January 20 and on March 2; and Tesco at Uckfield on February 9 and March 1.

The six reports involve a man and woman distracting shoppers before taking their credit cards or debit cards and withdrawing money - several hundred pounds at a time.

Sgt Michael Keeler said: “We have had reports from shoppers in Tescos at Uckfield and Waitrose and Morrison’s in Crowborough.

“It could be that the victims have been watched using their pin number in the store and they have then been targeted in the car park.

“The thieves have distracted the shoppers by asking if they have dropped a £10 note or produced a map and asked for directions.

“This distraction has given them time to steal the card used in the store and use it as much as they can at a local ATM. The woman, who is believed to be Eastern European, and the man appear to be working together.”

She has been described as in her 30s, wearing a beige head scarf and red jacket,

He is also in his 30s, about 5ft6ins, with dark hair and casually dressed.

Sgt Keeler said: “The distractions are easily plausible netting the thieves hundreds of pounds each time, although twice they could not spend on the cards. “We believe it is a man and woman acting together.

“I would urge people, especially the elderly to be on their guard.

“When shopping they should protect their pin number, shielding it from view, and keep their card stored safely.

“Thieves often use distraction tactics so be wary and walk on or call out if you feel threatened.”