Toronto police are warning the public about distraction thefts after a woman’s wallet was stolen from her purse as she sat with friends in a busy pub.
Carolyn Roy was out for dinner recently at a restaurant near the Rogers Centre, in the city’s downtown, before heading to a Toronto Blue Jays game. Sitting at a table, she left her purse hanging from the back of her chair while she ate and chatted with her friends.
After the meal, she turned to grab her wallet to pay the bill only to discover it was missing.
It wasn’t until she saw surveillance video taken from inside the restaurant that Roy realized she had been a victim of theft.
The footage shows a man and a woman, both wearing hats and sunglasses, come up to stand behind her. The couple are seen covering her bag with a coat before the man fishes through her purse and takes her wallet.
After successfully taking the wallet, the pair hugged, and left the bar.
“I felt disgusted watching this man reach into my purse right behind my back, in front of my friends and family, and nobody noticed,” Roy said. “Unbelievable.”
Believable or not, Toronto police warn that distraction thefts are all too common.
“Distraction thefts do happen on a daily basis,” Const. Jennifferjit Sidhu told CTV News. “However, a lot of the time the police report is not put in by the victim.”
The police say that with more information, they can often make arrests and sometimes return the stolen items.
The safest way to avoid distraction crimes is to prevent yourself from becoming a victim, police said.
Sidhu advises people to be aware of their surroundings while out in public.
“Make sure your purse or your bag is within visual view at all times,” Sidhu said. “Never place it behind the chair in the restaurant.”
As for Roy, she says she’s filed a police report, but wants to warn others to be more cautious.
“Do not leave your bag unattended. Keep it on you wherever you go. Don’t trust that anybody is going to see something suspicious happening,” she said.