A man who uses the ruse of a faulty vehicle has been targeting elderly woman in Abbotsford to steal their wallets and/or purses.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the culprit has struck three times – on Oct. 16 and Jan. 6 and 11 – and is believed to be singling out elderly women as they leave or return home.
MacDonald said, in each case, the man told the women he was having problems with his car and asked for water to fill his radiator.
He approached the women on the street or in the driveways of their homes as they were nearing or exiting their vehicles, and followed them into their residences when they went inside to get him some water.
The first incident took place at noon in the McKee/Whatcom area of Abbotsford when a 77-year-old woman was targeted.
She set down her purse, and the thief stole her wallet when she had her back turned. The victim noticed the theft after the man left and reported it to police, who discovered he had used her bank card at two ATM's.
MacDonald said it appears the victim had her personal identification number written on a piece of paper in her wallet.
The woman's wallet was later found by a citizen in Mission.
The next two incidents both took place in the area of Gladwin and Maclure roads, northeast of George Ferguson Way, and involved victims who were aged 92 and 79.
In both cases, the man stole their purses.
MacDonald said investigators are still trying to determine whether he used bank or credit cards from either of the purses.
In the incident on Jan. 6, the man ran from the scene, and the victim saw him get into the driver's side of a black vehicle, believed to be a Nissan Altima.
In the incident on Jan. 11, the victim saw the man get into a passenger seat of a newer model dark-coloured mini van.
The suspect is described as Caucasian, 30 to 40 years old, with short dark hair and a thin to medium build.
MacDonald cautioned that, if citizens want to help someone claiming to need assistance, they should not allow that person into their home or they should offer to call police or a tow truck to assist.
They might also want to ask someone else – such as a neighbour – to join them in helping the person, MacDonald said.