Elderly targeted in Barking and Dagenham cash point thefts
Eight people over the age of 70 have been robbed after withdrawing money from cash machines in the borough over the past three months.
And Barking and Dagenham Police believe this type of crime will escalate as the Christmas season approaches.
The robbers work in small teams and have been known to use a variety of techniques to distract the attention of the victim so that another person can steal their money unnoticed.
Tactics include spilling something on the victim such as chocolate, and then insisting on wiping it off or asking for directions or information and even giving the victim a hug.
The suspects are usually Eastern European men or women who may appear to be alone, or in a pair. Reports have been received for both the Dagenham Heathway area and Barking Town Centre.
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Police urge anyone using a cash point to use the ones inside the bank whenever possible and to ensure that cash is securely put away immediately.
When out shopping, women should keep their bags zipped closed on their shoulder, tucked under their arm.
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Men should keep their wallet in an inside upper pocket and not in trouser pockets where they can be plucked by a pickpocket.
DI Phil Brewer, police lead for robbery, said: “It is no coincidence that this crime is rising as the festive season approaches.
“These scheming individuals realise that people withdraw larger amounts of cash for both shopping and celebrating at this time of year.
“Please be aware of what is going on around you, and who may be watching you and above all, please make sure that you do not allow yourself to be distracted by anyone until you have put your cash securely away.”