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Distraction mobile phone thefts

21 May 2020
  • Thieves target mobile phones in business premises.

  • Distraction techniques are used to  steal mobiles left on counters or desks.

  • Officers appeal for the public to be on their guard.

Police in North Herts are warning the public to be on their guard following a number of distraction mobile phone thefts, which have occurred since more businesses have opened their doors.

Offenders have used distraction techniques, including handing over pieces of paper for staff to look at, or creating a bit of a commotion. Once the offenders have left the premises, staff realise that their mobile phones, which have been out on desks or counters, have also been taken.

“Prior to lockdown, thieves were targeting cafes in a similar way,” said Safer Neighbourhood Team Inspector James Lant. “Offenders often used to put leaflets down on tables, covering any mobiles that were there and then picking up the leaflets and the phone with them. As most cafes are only open for takeaways, thieves are now focussing on other businesses in a similar way.”

So far two estate agents, one in Royston and one in Hitchin, have been targeted in this way, but officers want everyone to be on their guard when they are out and about.

“Never leave your phone out on a counter or desk whilst you are in a shop or café,” continued Inspector Lant. “Make sure you keep it on your person unless you are using it and never in a back pocket or somewhere it is easily accessible.

“We have been liaising with local businesses that are now re-opening, but we want everyone to be on their guard.”

You can tell us what matters most to you about policing, crime or anti-social behaviour in Hertfordshire using echo. Go to bit.ly/herts-echo and have your say.

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