A spate of distractions thefts across North Herts has prompted police to issue a warning to shoppers. 

Offences have occurred in Royston, Baldock, Hitchin and Letchworth and include the car parks of Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Tesco.

In each case the victims were loading shopping into their vehicles or returning trolleys when the distraction took place.

During the offences the victims were distracted by someone claiming their car is damaged, someone needing help with car park charges or local information, while the victim is returning their trolley.

On each occasion the victim has later found their wallet or purse is missing from their car and, in some cases, that their cards have already been used.

The latest offence happened on Monday, March 20.

A woman was using the car park of Waitrose in Hitchin when she was told that her car had been scratched. She got out to have a look and when she got back into her car, her purse had gone.

Detective Inspector Ben Smith said: "We are asking for people to be on their guard in supermarket car parks and report any suspicious behaviour to us.

"The offenders seem to be using the ruse of damaged vehicles or needing information about car park charges or local services, to distract victims.

"It is possible that two offenders are working together and while one distracts the shopper, the other swipes the purse or wallet.

"Always keep your purse or wallet on your person until you are ready to drive away and never leave it unattended in your vehicle."

You can report information online at herts.police.uk/report, speak to an operator via our online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact or call the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/22945/23.

Alternatively, you can stay anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.