WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – West Hartford police are alerting the community about a distraction-style theft that happened Tuesday afternoon on North Main Street.

It happened in the parking lot of 340 North Main St. Police said the style of theft was similar to those that happened back in February in supermarket parking lots.

Generally, distraction thieves are well-dressed and target elderly victims and retail businesses. As in this case and similar cases, the suspects work in pairs and may wait for you to enter your vehicle and then the distracter will lure you out either trying to report a problem they have or an issue with your vehicle (flat tire, lug nut…)” police said.

The thefts have been happening around town, at the Whole Foods in Bishop’s Corner, the one in the center of town and Trader Joe’s. They seem to not only be targeting West Hartford but the greater Hartford area.

“There are a lot of stores, you could go right across the street, Target, Marshalls, gas stations and start running up these charges before you even get a chance to cancel your credit cards,” said West Hartford Police Sgt. Amanda Martin.

West Hartford police are patrolling parking lots, asking people to keep an eye out for a man and woman who allegedly use a distraction crime to steal valuables out of cars. Police believe the couple is responsible for multiple thefts going as far back as February, hitting stores around the state as far away as Westport.

Police provided the following tips to help protect yourself and your belongings:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and be wary of strangers
  • If you exit your vehicle to speak with someone, lock and close your vehicle doors behind you
  • Place valuables (purse, wallet, etc.) in a hidden area in your vehicle and if your purse has a zipper, utilize it
  • Park in a well-lit and visible area (keep in mind where exterior cameras may be located on nearby buildings)
  • Immediately report any suspicious behavior to the police

“As I’m coming down, I’m just looking to see people who are out on the parking lot, especially if there’s any activity near where my car is located,” said Judy Silver of West Hartford. “Number one I always lock my car, number two I always take my purse with me even when I’m pumping gas, and number three if somebody says that to me I would say ‘thank you, I’ll go to the gas station and check it out.”

Police ask that as soon as you realize your purse, wallet or cell phone was stolen, to call them immediately.