Thieves have pretended to ask for directions before stealing from victims in Stevenage.

In recent weeks, thieves have targeted victims in distraction thefts which have predominately taken place in supermarket car parks within the town centre.

Victims were approached by someone asking for directions, who has sometimes produced a large map. Some of the victims then got out of the car to help give directions, while a second person removed bank cards, cash, purses or bags from the boot or passenger seat of the victim's car.

Police advise that if you believe you have been targeted by these criminals you should remain friendly but ensure that your valuables are secure.

Try to remember anything distinctive about the thieves, such as their ethnicity, age and what they are wearing, seek help and alert the police straight away by dialling 999.

They have also issued the following advice to avoid distraction theft:

* use a bag that can be closed properly so that is it difficult for someone to open it and reach inside

* wear bags across your body rather than over your shoulder

* consider using a lanyard which attaches your phone or purse/wallet in your bag or clothes

* keep your purse or wallet at the bottom of your bag

* avoid putting valuables such as phones, wallets or purses in your back pocket

* register your property with Immobolise so that your belongings are lost or stolen there is a better chance of them being returned to you.