Detectives and crime analysts at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office have noticed a growing trend in what are referred to as “distraction thefts” or “quick-change scams.”

It’s not a major trend, but it’s enough that we want to let people know that it’s happening — and maybe help prevent anyone else from becoming a victim.

Here’s what typically happens. The suspect goes into a store and grabs an item — in one case, it was a bottled water. The suspect will give the cashier a large bill and then proceed to confuse the cashier. Eventually, the suspect will walk away with more money than they came in with.

Since April, PCSO has been made aware of this sort of thing occurring five different times in Lakeland, Mulberry and Davenport. Whether any of these cases are related, we don’t yet know.

If you are a cashier, this is something you need to be aware of. If you know someone who is a cashier, share this information with them. Even if you aren’t a cashier, this is something that could happen to anyone.

It could happen at a garage sale, a fundraiser or even someone simply coming up to you on the street and asking for change.

And don’t think that you could never fall for such a scam. If you asked the victims of this type of crime, they would probably tell you that they would have felt the same way.

If you find yourself in this situation, slow things down and you should be able to make sense of what the scammer is doing.


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