Two Montreal families are warning others to be careful after elderly loved ones were robbed by a thief who used distraction as a tactic to get away with valuables.

Maria Pelle said her 88-year-old mother was relaxing on her backyard deck in the East End when a stranger drove into their back alley. The woman hugged her mother and, in the process, stole her necklace.

“She violated my mom’s space,” said Pelle.

The thief left another necklace behind but Pelle said the one that was taken was a gift from her mother’s late husband.

Connie Muro said her mother experienced something similar while walking to church in July.

“(The thief) put on this fake necklace and managed to remove (my mother’s) earrings, her necklace without my mom noticing,” said Muro, adding the thief also managed to take two wedding rings and an engagement ring.

“It’s scary because she felt she couldn’t defend herself,” said Muro. “They caught her off guard.”

Both Pelle and Muro said they’ve heard reports of other, similar incidents in Montreal and Laval through social media.

“It happens in St-Leonard, it happened in Laval, it happened in RDP, Ahuntsic,” said Pelle. “It’s happening all over the place.”

Both families have filed police reports.

“Criminals do target their specific vulnerable people so the SPVM advice is, be more vigilant about it,” said SPVM spokesperson Emmanuel Anglade.