About Councilmember Navarro

I serve as the Council Vice-President and the Montgomery County Councilmember representing District 4. I am the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and also serve on the Health and Human Services Committee.

Get The Latest News

Sign up to receive latest news

November 10, 2009

Reoccurring Distraction Theft Schemes Target Senior Citizens

Dear Resident,

Please pass the following information along to seniors in your community. This is not intended to frighten anyone, but I do believe it is important to alert those who are more at-risk of being targeted of this sort of crime.


Nancy Navarro




For Immediate Release

For More Information:

November 6, 2009

Media Services Division, 240-773-5030

Montgomery County Police want to remind senior citizens and their families that there are specific distraction-type thefts which continue to occur not only in Montgomery County, but throughout the metropolitan area, and typically target senior citizens. The two primary distraction thefts occur most commonly in elevators in buildings with medical offices and in grocery stores, but are not exclusive to those locations. The suspects committing these crimes usually, but not always, work with an accomplice. Suspects could be a group of two to three males, or a male and female working together.

In May of 2009 there were a series of distraction thefts in buildings with medical offices in the greater Bethesda area. Those buildings included the Kaiser Building at 10819 Connecticut Avenue, the Chevy Chase Building at 5530 Wisconsin Avenue, and the Camalier Building at 10215 Fernwood Road. In those incidents, all occurring during midday, inside the buildings’ elevators, a variety of suspects distracted seniors by feigning the need for assistance (sometimes pretending to have an arm or sleeve stuck in the elevator) and took their wallets. The victims were usually men.

On Wednesday, October 28, 2009, a similar incident occurred. The 73-year-old male victim got on the elevator in the Camalier Building in Bethesda. Two unknown male suspects were on the elevator with him. One suspect stepped on the victim’s foot several times, apologizing each time, and one of the suspects dropped a paper. When the victim got off the elevator and went to pay for a prescription, he discovered that his wallet containing cash and credit cards was missing. He called police. The victim’s 10-year-old granddaughter was with him on the elevator and neither one was aware that the wallet was being taken.

These most recent suspects are described as two black males over 6’ tall with brown eyes and black hair. One was described as weighing 170 to 200 pounds; the other as weighing between 200 and 250 pounds.

In the distraction schemes in grocery stores, the victims are more commonly female. A suspect pretending to be a shopper will ask for some sort of assistance from an older woman. He may ask which brand of a product she would recommend. Or even claim to be allergic to peanuts and can’t read the label, so asks the victim to look at a product package to see if there are any nuts. While the female victim is trying to be helpful, the suspect removes the wallet from her purse. Sometimes the entire purse is taken.

Montgomery County Police want to make certain that senior citizens are aware that these types of crimes do occur and what steps can be taken to help prevent being victimized:

  • Men should carry their wallets inside a coat if possible or in a side pocket, never the back pocket. Wrapping a couple of strong rubber bands around a wallet makes it more difficult to extract.
  • Watch out for jostling and physical or verbal distractions which are probably being staged so that a pocket/purse can be picked.
  • If you are aware that your pocket has been picked, don’t be afraid to yell out or shout for help.
  • Be aware that pickpockets often work in teams. One person may appear to be asking you for help or engaging you in some way while an accomplice is after your valuables.
  • Woman should not leave their purses in shopping carts. Purses should be zipped or buckled closed, carried close to the body, and whenever possible keep a hand on the closure.
  • Have some sort of credit card protection in place where the credit card companies monitor the usage and can detect fraudulent activity.
  • Be sure to have account information and contact numbers easily accessible in order to call credit card companies as soon as possible after a theft.
  • After a theft occurs, call police as soon as possible at 911 or the police non-emergency number of 301-279-8000. Write down some notes of what can be remembered of the suspect(s) to provide as complete a description as possible to police.


Post a Comment