West Vancouver police are again warning the public after an uptick in distraction thefts targeting seniors.
Two elderly women fell victim to the same man in their Ambleside apartment building on Tuesday.
Around 1:30 p.m., a man approached a 94-year-old woman in the hallway on the 1300 block of Clyde Avenue, distracted her with conversation and managed to swipe her wallet, according to Const. Kevin Goodmurphy, West Vancouver police spokesman. Two hours later, the same suspect persuaded an 84-year-old woman in the same building to let him into her apartment where he snatched her wallet.
In both cases, he claimed to be visiting a family member in the building.
Then, just before 5 p.m. a resident of the building on the 500 block of Water’s Edge Crescent saw a suspicious man attempting to talk to strangers before confronting him and chasing him out.
Before the victims realized what had happened, the thief was already using their debit and credit cards. Goodmurphy could not say exactly how much money was lost in the 20 transactions on the cards “pretty darn quick after he took them.”
Goodmurphy issued a release with surveillance of the suspect Thursday morning. Within an hour, a member of the public recognized the man and identified him for police, Goodmurphy said.
“We’re going to be taking further action,” he said. “We need to speak to this person.”
The case underscores the need for caution when it comes to strangers in apartment buildings, Goodmurphy said.
“They’re targeting seniors that might be a bit more vulnerable and easily confused. If you’re not sure about somebody, err on the side of caution and don’t allow them in your apartment,” he said.