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OPP seek to identify distraction theft suspects in Russell, Ont.

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Ontario Provincial Police are warning shoppers of the risk of distraction thefts, with a video of a particular incident in Russell, Ont. showing how quickly it can happen.

The video depicts a man apparently having difficulty with his shopping cart, keeping someone behind him stuck for a moment. During that time, a woman opens the victim’s purse and steals a wallet. 

The incident happened Jan. 4, but wasn’t reported until Jan. 12. The thieves used the victim’s debit card to steal hundreds of dollars, police allege. 

“These kinds of thefts can happen anywhere, including your community,” said Bill Dickson of the OPP in the video.

While the highlighted case involved an issue with a shopping cart, Dickson said these kinds of thefts can come in a variety of forms.

“In these kinds of cases, the thieves engage the customer in conversation. They might ask about items they’re buying, or just chat. Meanwhile, another person is helping themselves to a wallet or purse in the victim’s cart,” he said. “It can also happen in store parking lots, where one of the thieves might start talking to the target about a problem they noticed with that person’s car, but again, another person is helping themselves to a wallet, a backpack, or purse in the cart.”

In some recently reported cases, the thieves used the victims’ credit or debit cards to make fraudulent purchases.

OPP are looking to identify the two suspects depicted in the Russell, Ont. incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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