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Warning for cash machine users after distraction thefts in Medway and Gravesend

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Cash machine users are being warned to be vigilant, following a spate of distraction thefts in Rainham, Gillingham, Rochester Chatham and Gravesend.

Police say they are investigating numerous reports of thieves targetting pensioners and other members of the public, after they've inserted their bank card into ATMs.

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In each case, the victims have been approached by a person who often states the machine is not working.

While they are distracted, it is alleged a second person steals their bank card, leaving the victim to believe it has been retained inside the cash machine.

In the most recent incidents on Wednesday May 4, three cards were stolen while the owners were distracted at ATMs in Princes Avenue, Chatham, Knight Road, Rochester and King Street, Gravesend.

On April 25 cash machine users were also targeted in Birling Avenue, Gillingham, and at Rainham Shopping Centre, and cash was later stolen from one of the victim’s accounts.

Detective Inspector Pete Smith said: "These offences are being carried out by a group of people who will often target a specific area for a few hours, before moving on to another location."

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"They usually work in pairs and will choose victims who appear elderly or vulnerable.

"I would urge anybody using an ATM, particularly those situated outside banks and other premises, to take care nobody is close enough to watch them as they enter their PIN.

"On no account speak to a stranger while withdrawing cash and, if you believe you are being targeted by a suspected thief, phone 999 immediately."

Police say three people have been arrested following an investigation into the thefts.

Two women aged 30 and 32 and a 37-year-old man, all from London, were arrested on suspicion of theft, and are currently on bail until June 13 pending further investigation.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation should contact Kent Police on 01634 792209 quoting 46/78008/22.

You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by using the online form on their website.

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