Police are warning the public to be vigilant following a spate of distraction thefts at local businesses in east Cheshire.
Over the past few months teams of thieves appear to have been targeting pubs, bars and more recently, offices in east Cheshire. Officers are trying to trace the offenders but in the meantime people are urged to be vigilant and keep valuables out of sight and secure.
In most cases the iPhone is the target of these thieves who yesterday stole a phone from an estate agents and a pub in Alsager.
They approach an unsuspecting member of the public and place a map or leaflets on the table, masking the iPhone, and engage their victim in conversation. They then pick up the map or leaflets along with the iPhone and make their escape.
DS Andy Harwood said: "We would urge the public not to tempt fate by leaving their phones on the bar, café table or desk and be wary of anyone trying to engage them in conversation with a map or a leaflet.
"We are doing everything we can to try and apprehend the offenders who appear to work in pairs. They are described as eastern European or Mediterranean men and women ranging in age from late teens to their 40s.
"We would advise that you keep your iPhone out of sight and to be alert to strangers coming to your table trying to engage you in conversation. Please don′t leave your phone on the table, keep it in your pocket or your bag to avoid becoming their next victim."
There have been incidents in Knutsford, Wilmslow, Congleton and Macclesfield.
Officers across the area have been providing a high visibility presence but still advise:
· Increase awareness − be wary if approached by somebody asking for directions or showing you leaflets.
· Bluetooth − consider switching this off as they may be using this to identify active iPhones in the area.
· Record − keep a note of your phone′s number and IMEI separate from the phone and note any distinguishing features.
· Don′t leave your phone on display - keep it in your bag or pocket.