Be careful this holiday season

Sgt. John Keating, DRPSBy Sergeant John Keating/Durham Regional Police Service

The Holiday Season is a time of year to celebrate with family and friends, to give thanks for all we have, to give to others whom are not so fortunate and to pick senior targets and steal everything you can from them!!!!!

Well, the latter is something only the crooks and thieves do of course, but I think it’s important everyone be aware of the way these crooks and thieves will try and steal from you.

One way is a pick pocket type scam. The crooks target seniors in malls. They will look for the senior women who have their purses un-zippered and senior men who carry their wallet in their rear pocket of their pants.

The crooks often work in teams of two or three. Once they have picked out their senior target, then the action part of the scam begins. They follow you around and when the time and location is right, they make some type of “distraction”. Maybe it will be a fake fight or argument; maybe they will drop something or spill something in front of you. This is done purposely to draw your attention, both your body and mind, to the distraction. While your mind is on this distraction, one of the crooks goes into your purse or takes you wallet. Now even if you think you have caught them stealing from you and you confront them or get security involved, the crook will NOT have your wallet. This is because when the crook stole your wallet, they immediately and subtlely gave the wallet to crook teammate who then immediately and quietly leaves the area. This all happens in a matter of 2 seconds. The way to avoid this scam is to not be a “target” in the first place. Ladies make sure your purses are zippered and in front of you not to your back or side. Men, put those wallets in your front pocket. This crooks only look for the easy targets.

Another scam these crooks pull at the malls during this holiday season is in the parking lots. They target usually senior women who are alone. They watch you park your vehicle. They wait for you to come out with all your gifts and they wait for you to open your car and put your gifts in the car. Then some really nice man (a wolf in sheep’s clothing) will approach you and tell you it looks like your engine has a major leak as there is lots of fluid on the ground under your engine. (The fluid is all over the ground because before you got to your vehicle, the crooks poured lots of antifreeze under your engine) The nice man tells you to pop your hood and he will take a quick look for you…..how nice of him. He calls you out of your car to look under the hood with him. While you are out of your car, the crooks accomplice goes quietly into your car and takes all the gifts you just bought along with your purse. This takes all of about 5 seconds and the crook is gone. The nice man then tells you he has to go and leaves you there. Once you get back in your vehicle, you realize then you have been a victim of theft by crooks. The way to avoid this is be aware it’s happening and if someone approaches you under these circumstances, call for assistance on your cell from someone you know or if you feel you are being scammed, call 911.

Lastly, be careful about giving to phony charities. The holiday season is a time of year most of us are in a generous and giving mood. I encourage everyone to be charitable and give what you can, however, do so wisely or you generosity may be going straight to the hands of crooks and scammers. Last year there was a supposed charitable agency taking donations outside of retail stores. They had everyone convinced they were for real because they had brochures they handed out. They were simply photocopies folded in three to like a brochure. But they took in hundreds of thousands of dollars across Ontario. Come to find out, it was just a scam, the organization never existed. So be careful, if you are suspicious, do some research before you give. If you think it’s a scam, call the police. Give and give often for those great causes, but avoid giving to crooks and scammers who don’t care about anyone except themselves.

On behalf of the all of the members of the Durham Regional Police Service, I want to wish everyone, in particular, our wonderful seniors a very happy and healthy and safe holiday season.

Here to help keep you safe

Sgt. John Keating

Senior Support Co-ordinator

Durham Regional Police Service

905-579-1520 ext. 5624

 

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