Shoppers warned following distraction thefts in Chichester and Selsey

Police across West Sussex are warning shoppers to be aware of thieves when in supermarket or similar car parks and shopping areas.

Five incidents have been reported over May and early June in which two women have approached shoppers and stolen or attempted to steal valuable watches in public places such as car parks, outside supermarkets and retail parks.

The suspects are described as being in their 20s. One is about 5' 8", with dark brown hair and wearing glasses, The other is blonde and about 5'4".

In some cases, they have approached victims pretending to be deaf, asking for charity signatures or conducting surveys.

During this distraction they have managed to unclip the watch of the victims.

In North Street, Midhurst, on 8 May, an elderly couple was approached by the two women with a clipboard asking them to sign a document.

One asked to see the wife’s handbag and the other one then took the man by the wrist, trying to steal his watch.

On the late afternoon of 29 May a man reported that he had been followed home to Clapham by a blue VW during Saturday late afternoon.

A woman got out, followed him into his own garage and tried to unclip his Rolex watch.

She spoke in what was described as a foreign accent and was also asking him to spell out to her the street name. He challenged her and she went back to the car and left.

On the afternoon of 31 May outside John Lewis in Chichester, a woman was approached by two women pretending to seek signatures for a petition, and once they had left she realised her watch had gone.

On the morning of Saturday 29 May a man was in Asda at Selsey when he was approached by two women one of whom purported to be deaf.

They claimed to seek signatures for building a centre for disabled people in the local area but after they left he realised his Rolex watch had been stolen.

Most recently, in the car park behind Waitrose in East Grinstead on Friday (June 4), an elderly woman had her Rolex watch stolen between around 11am and 11.30am.

She was putting shopping in her car when she was approached by a woman purporting to be a charity worker.

The victim agreed to make a small donation to the charity, after which the suspect attempted to hug her. During this time, the suspect has taken the watch from the victim’s wrist.

Please be alert for any such approaches and if you see anyone behaving suspiciously in this way, dial 999 at once.

If you have any other information that might help trace this pair, contact Sussex Police either online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Overdrive.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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