IT TAKES seconds to be distracted and police are warning people in Gloucestershire to be wary of potential thieves.

There have been an increasing number of thefts reported across the county involving shoppers who are stopped and asked for directions by visitors with maps.

Valuables are then stolen from cars or bags while the victims are kept distracted.

In most cases the thieves have watched people enter PIN numbers in the store or at the ATM before distracting them in the car park and taking purses and wallets.

Gloucestershire Constabulary wants to warn people to be on their guard.

24 offences have been reported where distraction has been used by the thieves since the start of 2015.

Police found out that 15 incidents have happened in supermarket car parks when offenders ask for directions to the hospital or the train station.

The offenders often have a map or a piece of paper which they place on the bonnet of a car to fully distract the victim while a second offender enters the vehicle and takes the debit cards just used by the victim in the supermarket’s ATM or at the till.

A total of 21 of the victims have been female, three have been male and all are aged over 60, yet the majority have been in their 70s and 80s.

People must remember to keep their valuables secure and never leave them unattended, even for a few moments.

Dave McFarlane, crime reduction advisor for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: "We are very conscious of these types of crime and we are in the process of talking to all supermarkets in the county to ask them to assist us in the prevention of these thefts.

"If staff and customers can be mindful about this type of crime we can make it harder for the offenders. Be cautious at all times when approached by a seemingly kind stranger attempting to distract you from your property or possessions - always be aware of your surroundings and don’t let your guard down in public places. If you feel vulnerable simply say you can’t help."

Do you recognise or can you help identify the two men in these pictures?

Gloucestershire police would like to speak to them following distraction theft incidents, using maps in the car park, at Kingsditch Retail Park on June 23. Call 101 quoting incident number 308 of June 23 2015.