Northamptonshire Police is advising people to remain alert after a recent spate of distraction thefts across the county.

The incidents have predominantly taken place in supermarket car parks, most recently in Northampton.

In these incidents, the victim has been approached by someone who has asked for directions and, on some occasions, then produced a map. Some of the victims have then got out of their car to help give directions. Whilst they are distracted, a second person has removed bank cards, cash, purses or bags from the boot or passenger seat of the victim’s car.

Paul Golley, Crime Prevention Manager, said: “Criminals can use distraction techniques to their advantage in a variety of ways, including asking for directions whilst you are using a cash machine, or distracting you whilst you’ve left your handbag in the shopping trolley momentarily.

“Such questions appear very normal and legitimate, and in many cases will be just that. However timing is everything to a distraction thief, as they are hoping to catch you off guard whilst your mind is focused on other things.”

Where possible try to keep an open mind and beware of your wider surroundings. Trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, politely decline.

* Keep your belongings with you or secured out of sight.
* If you leave your car for any amount of time, check your windows and doors are locked.
* If you choose to help with requests for assistance, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.
* If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. Politely say you cannot help and drive away.

For further advice on how to protect yourself and your belongings, you can visit our website here: https://www.northants.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/theft-from-a-person/pickpocketing/