Gang of crooks target shoppers

Police want to speak to this man and woman in connection with the distraction thefts.
Police want to speak to this man and woman in connection with the distraction thefts.

A gang of organised crooks are raking in “an absolute fortune” by targeting vulnerable women including one in Lancaster.

Police said the gang, who are though to be Eastern European, have struck up and down the country including Lancashire - one victim lost £4,500 after being targeted at Aldi on Morecambe Road.

The thieves followed their victim from a cash point to the car park at the supermarket.

This time one of the crooks distracted her with a story about his wife being in hospital having a baby.

Once they had her card and details they stole £4,500 by withdrawing cash from machines across the region – including two withdrawals at an Asda store in Blackpool.

Other offences have taken place at Marks and Spencer stores on Church Street, Blackpool, and Victoria Road West, Cleveleys, as well as Morrisons on Mill Street, Kirkham.

The offences took place between June and July.

It is not clear if the pair pictured were involved in each offence but police say they believe the same gang was behind them all.

Insp Mark Morley, of Blackpool Police, said: “They go after late middle age to elderly females – it’s despicable stuff.

“They are preying on innocent and vulnerable members of the community.

“One victim the other day got fleeced for almost £5,000 before she was able to report the card missing.

“These people are hitting us with distraction thefts and they are quite sickening – if that was your relative you would not be happy.”

“We would urge people to be cautious when taking money out at cash points.

“If somebody approaches you by your vehicle, keep hold of your handbag.”

The pictures(opposite) are taken from footage recorded in Aldi, on Parkinson Way, South Shore, following a theft on June 11, when a 76-year-old woman had her purse stolen.

Police forces around the country have been in touch with Lancashire Police to say the man and woman pictured in the CCTV images are thought to be responsible for other crimes.

Police are also appealing for help to identify the pair and are following up leads on another two men involved in the gang.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101