Shoulder surfers target elderly women in South Lakes

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Pensioners are being targeted by ‘shoulder surfers’ who are spying on them at cash machines or in shops and then distracting them to steal their bank cards.

Police are warning shoppers in South Lakeland to be extra vigilant after a spate of distraction or‘shoulder-surfing’ thefts.

There have been six thefts in just a two day period, between Thursday October 8 and Friday October 9.

On Friday October 9 a 76-year-old woman was getting into her car in Booths, Milnthorpe, car park when she was approached by a man who said she had a wire hanging from beneath her car.

Later she realised three bank cards had been taken from her purse and £800 stolen from an account.

On Thursday October 8: A 68-year-old woman was approached by a man while at her car in Morrisons, Kendal, car park.

He asked for directions and asked if she could draw a map for him.

Later she realised her bank card had been stolen and more than £1,800 taken from her account.

n An 85-year-old woman had her purse stolen from her bag while walking between Boyes and Booths in Kendal.

n An 85-year-old woman had her purse stolen and cards used for £460 worth of purchases while shopping in Marks and Spencer, Kendal.

n A 77-year-old woman was distracted while waiting in the queue to be served at the Bodycare store in Kendal, when she was approached by a male who engaged in conversation about the products. She later realised her bank book and £200 cash had been stolen from her bag.

On Friday October 9: an 88-year-old woman was returning to her car in the Booths, Windermere, car park when she was approached by a man who said she had a wire hanging from beneath her car. He suggested she raise the bonnet and assisted her in looking under it. She later realised that her bank card had been stolen and £2,000 taken from her account.

PC Christine Nelson said:“We want to remind everyone to be extra vigilant and to have a higher sense of security when they are out shopping. We would also remind people not to leave bank cards or purses in an open shopping bag – make sure they are in a zipped pocket.

“All those targeted have been women over the age of 68 who have been out on their own, so if you have family, friends or neighbours in that category we would ask that you make sure they are aware of the warning too.”

One of the potential suspects is believed to be a man in his mid-40s, around 6ft tall, wearing a dark jacket and jeans. He had an Eastern European accent.

Anyone with information or who witnessed the incidents should contact Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.