EDMONTON – Edmonton police say a group of travelling thieves has reappeared in the city, allegedly targeting seniors with distraction-style thefts.
The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) says the same transient group was present in the city last year, and was responsible for 107 crimes.
Officers say the thieves typically target elderly people who are alone or may not speak English as their first language. They approach their victims with fake gold jewellery — either to give it to them as a gift or offer it in exchange for money.
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Meanwhile, police say the thieves swipe the victims’ real jewellery without them knowing. Often times the thieves will use force and violence.
So far this year, 17 distraction-style thefts, robberies and frauds have been reported to police, with 12 incidents in March alone.
“We encourage the public to report these crimes and other suspicious activities, such as street corner gold jewellery offers, to police as soon possible,” said Acting Det. Emeric Derczeni with the EPS.
“These thieves are very good at what they do. They target as many victims as possible in a short period of time before moving on. The sooner police can get involved, the sooner we can stop these criminals.”
The suspects are described as a group of adult men and women with dark complexions and dark hair. Police say they have heavy accents and may be either Eastern European or Middle Eastern.
The thieves are currently believed to be in Edmonton, but police say they may be making their way around Alberta.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.