It's also a staple in several types of crime, especially for pickpockets.
And for more violent criminal efforts - the home invader who rings the front doorbell while the partner crowbars the back door or window is a simple example. I tried to convey that, but apparently wasn't plain enough.
Re the suggestion to practice reading license plates, car makes, and clothing on people passing by, I would be afraid that such practice would make me more attentive to details and less perceptive of the big picture, and therefore perhaps more susceptible to misdirection.
In another thread, a scenario was present in which a woman was robbed in a WalMart parking lot, and some folks chimed in that she should have had better awareness (which to me is a version of "blame the victim"). I answered with a scenario describing half a dozen or so people in the parking lot, one of which pulled a pistol when only a few feet from her. That is not an unrealistic scenario. We can't give full attention in several directions at once, or else it isn't "full" attention. And very often there is more than one person in sight. When you scan from person to person, there is necessarily a few moments of inattention to each, with each afforded an opportunity for a surprise action. Some folks don't seem to get that. Is the answer just to make our scans more rapid? What happens when someone deliberately sets up a diversion? That is unlikely in a parking lot, but not impossible in some other situations. How do we decide what is a diversion that we pass over and what is a real threat to which we give our full attention? Does anything ever get our full attention? If not, what about the research that shows how much better LEOs are when they are trained and experienced enough to focus on the gun hand of an assailant? Tough thing for this amateur to sort out.