Officers are urging residents to be aware after a series of distraction thefts in Rickmansworth.
The most recent incident happened on Thursday, June 10 when the elderly male victim was approached on the High Street by a man who began speaking in French. The victim, who can speak French, ascertained that the man wanted help with the parking meter.
The victim tried two bank cards in the machine and both were retained. Later on that day, his bank notified him that withdrawals of several hundred pounds had been made. His bank cards were blocked and the payments recalled. The suspect is described as a mixed raced male wearing a straw hat and gold rim glasses. (41/43247/21)
In another incident on Saturday 22 May, a woman in her seventies went to buy a parking ticket in Talbot Road when she was approached by a man and a woman. They wanted to assist her with getting a ticket and gave her instructions. The victim asked them to leave but during the exchange her debit card went missing.
The male suspect was described as black, of slim build with dark hair slicked back and a pencil moustache. He was 5ft 6in tall, aged in his late twenties to early thirties and was wearing a light beige corduroy jacket with a dark-coloured shirt. The woman was described as dark-skinned, 5ft 5in tall and between 50 to 60 years old. She was of large build and had dark-coloured ear length hair. (41/38011/21)
In a third incident on Tuesday 18 May, an elderly female victim went to use the cash machine at Santander bank on the High Street. She was approached by a man, described as black and of large build, who offered to help her use the machine. When the victim put her bank card into the machine, it was retained. Hundreds of pounds were later withdrawn from Barclays bank in Church Street. (41/36782/21)
In a fourth incident on Tuesday 6 April, an elderly female was approached by a man on Talbot Road. He asked for help using the ticket machine in the car park. She assisted him and put two bank cards in the machine, both of which were retained. The man left the area with a female and later the victim noticed hundreds of pounds had been withdrawn from two of her bank accounts. The bank cancelled the cards and her money was refunded. (41/24936/21)
PC Emily Blow, from the Rickmansworth and District Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “We believe these four offences may be linked and earlier this month, our proactive Operation Scorpion team attempted to stop a car on Uxbridge Road which had links to similar offences in Cambridgeshire.
“The vehicle failed to stop initially and officers located it on Chestnut Avenue, but no one was inside. They searched the car and seized it as part of the investigation, but we strongly suspect it was being used by cross-border criminals to commit offences in Hertfordshire.
“We have recorded intelligence and shared it with our colleagues in Cambridgeshire, but we’d like to warn the public about this type of crime, so if you have elderly friends or relatives, please make them aware too so they don’t fall victim to this scam.”
If you have any information about these offences, you can email PC Blow at firstname.lastname@example.org, use online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact, report information at herts.police.uk/report or call the non-emergency number 101, quoting the relevant crime reference number.
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