Distraction crime is not new - just sometimes different. Remember those swarming gangs at the beginning of this century? And those sleight-of-hand cons with notes - oh, I’ve found the right change after all; can I have my twenty back?
Now I think a new one has come to light. Jayesh Patel wrote from Classic News in Northampton: “I had two guys come in the shop. One produced a wad of scratchcards to check. Most of them were dud, except two. While I was busy scanning the scratchcards, his friend was busy filling his pockets.
“They did come back a second time, but my wife just told them that she was not allowed to check more than one scratchcard.”
The two blokes were strangers and wearing long coats. The Scratchcards were real. They were all creased up, which meant that Jayesh had to smooth them out before scanning them to see whether they were winners or losers. The couple of winners were for three or four quid.
“This all took five to 10 minutes and meanwhile the other guy was putting bottles of wine into his coat. It’s the first time I’ve ever come across this one.”
Several years ago the Association of Chief Police Officers (replaced last year by the National Police Chiefs’ Council) told me that crimes do tend to move in waves. Hence the wave of swarming distraction crimes that seemed to spring up and the flood of counterfeit twenties. Although they didn’t get very much in Jayesh’s case, I expect they will try it on somewhere else, so watch out for those crumpled Scratchcards.