CUNNING thieves are going on pre-dawn spending sprees with stolen credit cards in the hours before their sleeping victims have had a chance to cancel their cards.
Detectives are reporting an increase in credit card fraud by burglars who are buying cartons of cigarettes and other items using ‘‘tap and go’’ transactions before their victims have even woken up.
Lake Macquarie’s special operations group detectives are hunting a suspect wanted for questioning over the burglary of Belmont home between midnight and 5am last Wednesday.
By 5.18am, one of the victim’s cards was used to buy cigarettes at a Lambton 7-Eleven store.
There were at least two other successful transactions at Waratah and a further few unsuccessful attempts before 11am.
Police have released footage of a man they want to talk to after he was caught on closed circuit television footage at the counter of the Lambton convenience store.
Detective Senior Sergeant David Fisher said the overnight incident was part of a trend in which thieves were trying the cards as soon as they were stolen.
‘‘It appears to be happening more often, where they are getting into homes where people are asleep, grabbing credit cards and going on a shopping spree before [the victims] even know they have been done over,’’ Detective Senior Sergeant Fisher said.
He said thieves were sometimes entering through unlocked doors and finding wallets, purses and car keys sitting in the open as on the kitchen bench.
It has prompted a warning for residents to either put their personal belongings and keys away out of sight or to leave them in their bedrooms.
‘‘Just be mindful where you put them,’’ Detective Senior Sergeant Fisher said.
‘‘These criminals are getting inside and searching the living areas, they are not going into bedrooms,’’ he said.
Information on the theft should be given to Lake Macquarie special operations group detectives on 4942 9999 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.