POLICE are warning shoppers about two thieves who pretend to be deaf to distract charitable customers while they steal watches from their wrists.

Five incidents have been reported over May and early June in which two women have approached shoppers and stolen valuable watches, including Rolex watches, in supermarket car parks.

In some cases, they have approached victims pretending to be deaf, asking for charity signatures or conducting surveys.

It is during this distraction that they have managed to unclip the watches of innocent customers.

Both are said to be in their 20s, with one described as 5ft 8in, with dark brown hair and wearing glasses.

The other is blonde and about 5ft 4in.

In one incident in North Street, Midhurst, on May 8, an elderly couple was approached by the two women with a clipboard asking them to sign a document.

One asked to see the wife’s handbag and the other one then took the man by the wrist, trying to steal his watch.

In another incident on May 29, a man reported that he had been followed home to Clapham, near Angmering, by a blue Volkswagen vehicle during Saturday late afternoon.

A woman got out, followed him into his own garage and tried to unclip his Rolex watch.

She spoke in what was described as a foreign accent and was also asking him to spell out to her the street name.

He challenged her and she went back to the car and left.

On the afternoon of May 31, outside John Lewis in Chichester, a woman was approached by two women pretending to seek signatures for a petition, and once they had left she realised her watch had gone.

One man was in Asda at Selsey when he was approached by two women, one of whom purported to be deaf, on May 29.

They claimed to seek signatures for building a centre for disabled people in the local area but after they left he realised his Rolex watch had been stolen.

Most recently, in the car park behind Waitrose in East Grinstead on Friday, an elderly woman had her Rolex watch stolen between around 11am and 11.30am.

She was putting shopping in her car when she was approached by a woman purporting to be a charity worker.

The victim agreed to make a small donation to the charity, after which the suspect attempted to hug her. During this time, the suspect has taken the watch from the victim’s wrist.

A spokesman from Sussex Police said: "Please be alert for any such approaches and if you see anyone behaving suspiciously in this way, dial 999 at once.

"If you have any other information that might help trace this pair, contact Sussex Police either online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Overdrive.

"You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."