Police are appealing for witnesses and information following distraction thefts in Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth on Tuesday afternoon (26 September).
It was reported that a woman was using the contactless card payment machine in Bell Street, car park, Sawbridgeworth, at around 2.05pm, when she was approached by a man who told her it wasn’t working properly and said that she would need to enter her PIN instead.
While the woman was distracted, her card was taken from the machine. A transaction totalling £24 was subsequently made before the card was cancelled.
The man is described as being black, aged in his 40s, with a beard and was well-dressed in a suit (crime reference 41/77208/23).
It was also reported that a card was stolen from a second woman, who was approached and spoken to in similar circumstances by two unknown males by the payment machine, sometime between 2pm and 2.30pm. Thankfully, the card was cancelled before any money was taken from her account.
The males are described as being Asian, aged in their mid-30s and they were both wearing surgical masks. One was of stocky build and wearing jeans (crime reference 41/77173/23).
Then at around 3pm, a card was stolen from a payment machine at the Herts and Essex Hospital car park in Bishop’s Stortford. The suspect is described as an Asian male, who was wearing a mask and a cap (crime reference 41/77200/23).
PC Chris Ciepiela said: “Our enquiries are continuing at this time, including a review of CCTV, and anyone with information, or who believes they were approached in similar circumstances, is asked to please come forward.
Did you see anyone acting suspiciously in these areas at the time, matching the descriptions given?
“Following these incidents, we’d urge people to please remain vigilant when using payment machines or ATMs and be wary of anyone who approaches you or who may be trying to ascertain your PIN.
If you witness any suspicious activity, please report it police straight away and call 999 if the suspects are still in the area.”