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A scammer described by police as ''loud and expressive'' has been ripping off South Island Subway outlets. Sergeant Simon Paget, of Cromwell, said a middle-aged well-dressed Asian man would purchase a low-cost item such as a drink, hand the cashier a $100 note and take his change.
Talking loudly and using expressive gestures, thought to be an effort to fluster the cashier, he would then say he had the correct amount in coins and ask for the $100 note back.
Meanwhile, he would secretly pocket $40 to $60 before handing the change back, making a quick exit before the cashier realised.
Sgt Paget said in one case, CCTV footage showed the man appear to drop the coins. It was thought he then slipped some of the change into his sock.
The man is known to have performed his ''practised routine'' at at least three outlets - Frankton and Cromwell on Sunday and Kaikoura on Monday.
Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown, said in Frankton the man ordered items to the value of $2.60.
After receiving $97.40 in change, the man told the cashier he had the $2.60 in change and requested the $100 back.
He short-changed the cashier by handing over only $37.30 before quickly leaving.
Sgt Paget said the man had been caught out in Kaikoura by a worker who had been warned about the scam. When challenged, the man returned the money.
Sgt Paget said police knew of only those three places that had been affected, though there could be more.
''We don't expect a repeat in this area but it's a bit of a wake-up call for cashiers ... to be aware that not everyone is honest.''
The man is thought to be driving a white rental hatchback, hired in Auckland, and to be travelling north.
Police are investigating the incidents and believe they have some leads.