ATM users warned to be vigilant

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Criminals working as a team are targeting lone elderly women at ATM machines on supermarket car parks across Lancashire.

So far there have been several reports of this activity occurring mainly in the west of the county, but police have warned it could happen anywhere.

PC Tony Walsh of Clitheroe Police said: “The thieves are standing behind victims who are making the cash withdrawal at ATMs and obtaining their PIN numbers. One of the team then follows the victim back to her car and watches as she unlocks the vehicle and puts the shopping bags in the boot or in the back of the car. One of the offenders then engages the victim in conversation, asking for directions or pointing out a made up defect at the front of the car. At the same time another of the team sneaks into the car, steals the bank card from a purse or handbag and goes back to the ATM and uses the card to obtain cash.

“This has been witnessed on one occasion by a third party who says the criminals keep in touch by using headphones.”

The offenders are described as men and women aged 25 – 35 with East European accents.

The police are appealing to the public to be aware and inform elderly relatives or friends to be on their guard when withdrawing cash at ATMs.

Any suspicious activity can be reported using the 101 number or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.