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Police launch 0800 number & release video following crimes

Police launch 0800 number & release video following series of crimes
against elderly women

Waitemata Police investigating a worrying series of crimes against elderly women on the North Shore have this morning launched an 0800 number for information, and are releasing footage of the people believed to be responsible, to help catch the offenders.

In the past fortnight, there have been at least 8 cases where victims have ended up having their purses stolen, shortly after going to the supermarket.

The offenders have stolen thousands of dollars from the victims.

Police believe that a group of 3 offenders are responsible, a woman and 2 men (descriptions below).

The victims have all been elderly women, ranging from 71 - 86 years old.

The victim will buy groceries and as she pays with an eftpos card at the checkout, the female offender will 'shoulder-surf' and watch as the victim enters her pin number.

As can be seen in today's footage, a woman in a white jersey waits in the supermarket qeue behind the victim, with a basket of groceries.

As the elderly woman enters her pin number, the woman is watching and either filming it with her own cellphone, or making a note of the victim's pin-number into the cellphone.

The offender then 'decides' not to buy her own groceries, and leaves the shop immediately.

In six cases, the victim has then been followed home by the offenders.

Shortly after arriving home, a man will knock on the door and attempt to distract the victim by asking the elderly lady to come out of the house and check for a missing car, or to investigate a strange noise.

During this time a second man will steal the victim's purse from her house.

Straight away the offenders make multiple withdrawals from the victim's account.

In several cases it has been some time before the victim has realised her purse is missing, and in five cases, the amounts stolen have been in the thousands of dollars.

The supermarkets where the victims have been shopping vary across the North Shore, however several have occurred in Browns Bay and one took place in Westgate in West Auckland.

Some of the victims have had purses stolen after being approached in the supermarket carpark, rather than at home.

Detective Senior Sergeant Stan Brown says "This is appalling, these criminals are targeting one of our most vulnerable groups, invading their privacy, then their homes, stealing their money and leaving them traumatised.

The effects of a crime like this on an elderly person cannot be underestimated.

They must be stopped and we need the public to help us."

Police believe there may be more victims and have launched an 0800 number for anyone wishing to get in contact - *0800 464 876 (0800 4 NITRO)*

"We've launched a specific operation to investigate these crimes – Operation Nitro. Investigators on the team are in the process of making numerous enquiries and gathering all the evidence.

We do believe that there may be more victims that haven't yet come to the Police and we'd really encourage anyone who has been a victim to please ring the 0800 number" says Det Snr Sgt Brown.

"Whilst this type of crime is alarming, fortunately it is not common on the North Shore but we fully understand that there will be elderly people who are frightened by this.

If you're scared, talk to a relative, Age Concern or Neighbourhood Support.

Your local community Police will also be able to offer advice and reassurance" says Det Snr Sgt Brown.

The offenders are described as the following;

1.Female (shoulder-surfer)
Maori or Pacific Islander
Aged in her 20's
Shoulder-length wavy hair

2. Male
Aged in his 20's

3. Male
Maori or Pacific Islander
Stocky build
Aged in his 20's

The offenders may be travelling in a silver or white car.

The men who have approached the victim's at their homes have been described as being smartly-dressed and well-spoken.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Operation Nitro 0800 464 876 (0800 4 NITRO) number.

Information can also be given anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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