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‘Like a magician’: thief bamboozles fruit shop cashier out of $100

A thief with “magician-like” skills in misdirection has been caught on camera as he bamboozles a fruit shop cashier into handing over more than $100 in undue change.

The man brought half a pumpkin to the counter of Papa Joe’s Fruit and Deli in Thirroul Plaza, Wollongong, about 10.50am on Sunday.

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CCTV: Thirroul fruit shop robbery

A thief with “magician-like” skills in misdirection has been caught on camera as he convinces a Thirroul cashier to hand him more than $100 in unearned change.

He paid using a $100 note and the teenage cashier gave him change including a $50 note and coins.

As he received the change, he handed the cashier a few coins, possibly to appear to be rounding up the coins he had been given in change so he would be given a note instead.

While the cashier was distracted by the coins, he hid the $50 note he was handed, then claimed to have been short-changed by this amount.

He is believed to have repeated this trick and was handed a second $50 note.

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The cashier then appeared to give him some coins.

He then appeared to encourage the cashier to hand over another note. Her hand hovered over the till, but ultimately she declined.

Store owner George Akary said that, when he returned to the store 20 minutes later, the staffer told him she had been scammed. But she didn’t realise the extent of it.

“She thought she’d only let go $2.70,” Mr Akary said.

“I’ve got the rule that if anyone’s got an issue, that they can come back and speak to the manager, but he just managed to confuse her.

“She was really shook up. She just didn’t know what to do or how to react.

“He’s like a magician because, even watching [the video footage], it confused me.”

The man threw the pumpkin in the bin outside the store as he departed.

The man is believed to have targeted a Coles cashier in similar fashion before he went to the fruit shop.

The matter has been reported to Wollongong police.

Anyone with information that could assist police should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Illawarra Mercury