POLICE have issued a general warning following a spate of distraction thefts.
Over the past eight weeks a number of elderly and vulnerable people have had around £27,000 taken from their bank accounts.
The victims had been followed around supermarkets or to ATM machines where they have been watched as they enter their pin numbers.
They have then been followed into car parks or to their home addresses where the offenders have produced a piece of paper and a pen and have asked for a route to be written down or marked out.
While the victims were distracted they had their bank cards stolen and these have then been used across the country to make large purchases. Some cards have also been used at travel agents to purchase large sums of foreign currency which is then converted back into sterling.
The offenders have been described as speaking with broken English and potentially having an Eastern European accent.
The offences have been committed across the force area including Hereford, Market Drayton, Oswestry and Shrewsbury and Detective Constable Steve Davies urged all communities to be on their guard.
“Genuine people will not pressurise you into giving them directions,” he said. “If you are approached and made to feel flustered or uncomfortable please alert people around you and then contact the police.
“I would also urge retail staff to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity. If you believe someone is being followed or approached by someone then please contact the police.
“Family and friends can also help by alerting their loved ones and making them aware of what they should do if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.”
If you think you may have witnessed anything suspicious please call West Mercia Police on 101.
Alternatively contact Crimestoppers on telephone number 0800 555 111 to give information anonymously.