Thieves 'impersonating police' targeting Edinburgh tourists

Detectives are trying to trace a gang of thieves who have been targeting Edinburgh tourists by impersonating police officers.

The gang has been involved in more than 10 incidents over the past three weeks.

On each occasion men have stopped tourists claiming to be police officers conducting searches, before robbing them.

A Police Scotland spokesman said the men generally wear dark clothing and often have earpieces visible.

The latest incident came on Wednesday when a mother and daughter on holiday in Edinburgh from Chile had more than £1,000 stolen from a bag.

The pair were approached by a man on Magdala Crescent who handed them a camera and asked them to take a photograph of him.

Another two men then came up to them, saying they were plain-clothes police officers, and produced a photo card with the word "police" on it. They then demanded to check identities.

They initially searched the bag of the man with the camera, who immediately complied, then looked through a bag belonging to the Chilean tourists, managing to steal a large sum of dollars and sterling in the process.

'Unsuspecting tourists'

Police have issued a description of three suspects linked to the crime.

The first was an Asian male described as being in his late 30s or early 40s, 5ft 10in and of medium build.

The second man was also Asian, in his mid 40s, 5ft 7in and of slim build. The third was of Mediterranean appearance, 30 to 35-years-old, 6ft 2in and of medium build.

Det Ch Insp Stuart Houston said: "There is clearly a group of thieves operating in Edinburgh who are falsely presenting themselves as police officers in order to search the bags of unsuspecting tourists.

"These crimes are being carried out in streets across the city centre. And unfortunately the so-called 'officers' act so quickly that the victims are being duped into thinking the cash is still in their wallets or bags."

He added: "We would urge members of the public to look out for men who are acting suspiciously, especially around tourists, and contact police immediately the minute they see something untoward."

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