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Woman tells Tesco in Tunbridge Wells after card theft "tighten up your security"

By Kent and Sussex Courier  |  Posted: August 09, 2013

TARGETED: Christine French (left) and daughter Pauline Relf

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THE daughter of an elderly victim of card theft has called on Tesco in Pembury to tighten up its security.

Christine French was watched by thieves as she tapped in her PIN at the Pembury Road supermarket's check-out.

Moments later the 82-year-old was followed to the car park where a woman aged about 35 with a foreign accent asked if she had dropped a £5 on the ground.

As grandmother Mrs French was distracted, the woman stole her card from the purse in her zip-top carrybag.

The crooks withdrew £300 from cash machines, but quick-thinking bank staff refused to accept a £2,000 transaction in Orpington.

The same thieves are thought to have targeted a 79-year-old lone woman just minutes earlier. Police said they were investigating both incidents.

Mrs French's daughter Pauline Relf, 58, believes her mother, who has a "shock of white hair", was targeted because she was elderly and on her own. She was angry when a Tesco manager told her the tills and car park were not covered by CCTV.

Mrs Relf, of Pound Road in East Peckham, said the store must do more to protect its customers, and the teacher added that she alerted the Courier so others would be warned.

"I feel very anxious that it should not happen to anyone else, and particularly the elderly and vulnerable people," she said.

She said a manager at the Woodgate Corner store told her CCTV filmed the cosmetics and alcohol aisles and the exits.

She added: "I am not holding him responsible. I feel this is something going on at supermarkets at the moment. This is why I feel the attitude of Tesco was a bit complacent."

She said her mother, who had to tap in her pin number twice, did not notice anyone behind her at the checkout till.

Police said the thieves had targeted a 79-year-old woman using the same method about five minutes earlier. The pensioner had slapped the woman's hand as she reached for the purse.

In both incidents the woman was described as about 35, and may have been with a man of the same age.

Mrs Relf said: "My mother is safety conscious. I think she was quite shocked she got caught out. She always shields her hand when she is punching in the numbers.

"On this occasion she had to punch them in twice. Perhaps the machine had been tampered with or someone could have recorded her. She must have been targeted because she was elderly and on her own.

"The card was taken out and the purse put back – it was a sleight of hand."

A Tesco spokesman said they were sorry to hear about the incident, adding: "We take the safety of our customers very seriously and have a range of security measures in place at our store."

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