03/04/2014 04:56 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

Distraction thefts still an issue in Toronto, police say

Toronto police say that when spring arrives, the warmer weather will give so-called distraction thieves additional opportunity to ply their trade.

On Tuesday, police held a news conference to once again highlight the problem of distraction thefts that have plagued the Greater Toronto Area for some time.

Det. Wes Neal said the thefts usually involve one or two female perpetrators, with a male waiting in a vehicle nearby.

A senior is approached, often in a public place, and asked for directions, or engaged in conversation.

The perpetrator or perpetrators then place fake-gold jewelry on the victims, while simultaneously removing the victim’s own valuables.

"These criminals are highly skilled at their trade and they often commit these crimes without their targets even being aware that they’ve been victimized," Neal said.

And while police have made arrests in some previous cases, Neal admitted they are growing frustrated seeing the same type of crime being repeated over and over.

"As quickly as we make an arrest, it’s almost like another group steps up and starts the same type of behaviour," he said.

Police have released a video that demonstrates the way that these perpetrators have been targeting victims:

Neal said it’s important to give the public a reminder about these thefts ahead of when the snow finally melts.

"Spring is coming, people tend to spend more time outdoors, so we want to have this education right now, so that people can be aware for when the warmer weather comes and they’re wearing less clothing," he said.

Anyone with information about these thefts is asked to contact police at 416-808-2222, or to call Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.