A WOMAN conned out of £300 when crooks saw her pin number then stole her card has warned other shoppers to be vigilant.

Deborah Spinks is one of three victims fooled by a gang of tricksters in the Cherwell area who have been observing Pin numbers at cash machines before distracting victims and stealing their purses.

So far, only women have been targeted and distraction techniques include asking for directions, feigning illness and asking for change.

Last night, police confirmed they were investigating three incidents, including this one, and warned shoppers to shield the keypad when typing in Pin numbers.

Ms Spinks left her car unlocked at Tesco in Lockheed Close, Banbury, last month while she wheeled her shopping trolley back to the bay at about 3.30pm when a man with a map approached her asking for directions.

She told him how to get to Birmingham before getting into her car and driving off to nearby B&Q.

But when she went to pay for shopping at the DIY store, her credit card was missing.

The mother-of-five believes thieves spotted her Pin number as she paid for her shopping in Tesco, before stealing her card from her unlocked car.

The 45-year-old, from Scampton Close, Bicester, said: “I still can’t believe it happened. You see it on the telly and you don’t think it will happen to you.

“When I’m in the queue now I look, and I can see how easy it is to see someone putting in their number.

“I was really shocked, I felt sick about it, I felt stupid that I didn’t hide my number and that I didn’t lock my car.

“I want everyone to know how easily it can be done, especially if you are distracted.”

Book-keeper Ms Spinks said the man with the map, who was of Asian appearance, asked for directions in broken English.

She said: “He didn’t say much at all. He kept saying ‘Birmingham’ and ‘motorway’. I assumed he didn’t speak English. I was talking to him for a good few minutes because it was difficult to understand what he meant and the map wasn’t very clear so I couldn’t work out where he was.”

Cash was withdrawn from the Tesco cashpoint just minutes after Ms Spinks drove off. The thieves had removed her Tesco credit card from her purse on the front seat of the car.

She said the thieves tried to use the card several times but her credit card company put an immediate stop on the card.

Pc Richie Iwanoff of the Cherwell priority crime team, said: “I would urge shoppers to be particularly vigilant when using chip and pin services, and look out for anyone looking over your shoulder.

“Likewise I would urge people to lock vehicles even if only leaving it for a few moments. This is an organised group of criminals that can be easily stopped by simple crime prevention.”

In the other incidents, a 67-year-old woman had her credit card stolen and £349 taken after she was approached on Saturday, May 15, by a woman wanting £2 in change outside the same Tesco store.

On Friday, May 21, a 56-year-old woman had £500 stolen after two credit cards went missing from her car in Morrisons in Swan Close Road, Banbury after she was approached by a man asking for directions.

Call police on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.