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‘Distraction thefts’ target seniors
The daughter of a senior whose heirloom diamond ring was stolen right off of her hand last month said she has not given up on karma making things right.
The woman – who works in South Surrey – said her mom has never hesitated to help someone in need, and believed help was indeed needed when she was approached by a stranger in the 11700-block of 75 Avenue on Aug. 31.
The heavyset, curly-haired stranger asked the 75-year-old for directions to Surrey Memorial Hospital, then offered the older lady a necklace, seemingly as a thank you.
But when the senior reached for the ‘gift,’ the stranger grabbed her left hand and pulled off a $50,000-ring. It was a ring the Delta woman had worn since 1972, given to her by her husband, who has since passed away. The ring has seven one-carat diamonds on it – each one representing a family member.
“She has never taken it off,” the senior’s daughter said. “That’s what she calls her wedding ring.”
When the stunned senior demanded her ring back, the stranger threw a different ring at her and fled to a waiting vehicle driven by a man.
The “distraction theft” was one of at least three that have occurred near Whalley and Newton since mid-August, for which victims have provided similar culprit descriptions and tactics.
On Aug. 13, a heavyset South Asian or Middle-Eastern woman with gold teeth approached another woman and tried to put some fake jewelry on her. During the exchange, the large woman stole two bracelets from the victim.
Then, on Aug. 30, what is believed to be the same assailant approached an elderly Asian woman with a similar scheme, and took her necklace.
None of the victims was injured or threatened.
The Delta senior’s family is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the recovery of the stolen ring.
Police say they are looking for are a man and a woman in connection with the spree. Both are described as dark-skinned and between 45 and 55 years old. The man has short dark hair and a goatee, and the woman is heavyset with long, curly, dark hair.
Police have identified “a person of interest.”
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Delta Police at 604-946-4411, Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
In the meantime, police are reminding the public to use discretion when wearing valuable jewelry in public, and to use caution when approached by someone you don’t know.
If an incident occurs, call 911 immediately and try to note the suspect’s direction of travel.
A similar advisory was issued last year, after a series of jewelry thefts in the Newton area. In that spree, at least seven women reported having jewelry ripped from their necks or wrists by a Caucasian man. Police say the latest scheme is decidedly orchestrated and likely unrelated.
- with files from Kevin Diakiw