OAPs target of con

PUBLISHED: 11:43 12 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

Police warning after spate of distraction burglaries

Police warning after spate of distraction burglaries

VULNERABLE pensioners were targeted by criminals during a spate of distraction burglaries this week. Conmen descended on Hitchin sparking an urgent warning by police to elderly residents. On Tuesday, crooks approached three houses and tried to trick pens

VULNERABLE pensioners were targeted by criminals during a spate of distraction burglaries this week.

Conmen descended on Hitchin sparking an urgent warning by police to elderly residents.

On Tuesday, crooks approached three houses and tried to trick pensioners into letting them into their homes.

Just after 1pm, two men successfully conned their way into a house on Wratten Close by claiming to be from the water board.

Once inside, one man headed upstairs and rifled through the elderly lady's bedroom, while the other kept the victim talking downstairs.

They left shortly afterwards, having stolen £600 in cash.

The two men have both been described as white, about 30 years old and 5ft 9in tall. One possibly had an American or Australian accent and they both had dark hair.

Immediately before the attack, one of the offenders had tried the same scam at another house on Wratten Close, this time claiming to be from a fencing business.

Fortunately the elderly resident sensed that something wasn't right and slammed the door in his face.

However, the offender then went to a side door but this was also shut on him.

Police say this highlights just how persistent criminals can be and they are also warning that they've seen an escalation of force being used by distraction burglars.

The third attempted burglary took place just under an hour later on Kingswood Avenue at 1.50pm and involved three men.

Two of them tried to gain an elderly lady's trust by saying they were from an electricity company and were there to read the meter.

The lady went to check the meter but locked her front door behind her. When she returned, the offenders walked off towards Queenswood Avenue and got into an old style Vauxhall vehicle and drove off with the third offender.

Police said it is imperative that suspicious callers should be reported immediately to the police by calling 999.

Community inspector for Hitchin, Phil Wright, said: "Some of the offences were not reported for over an hour which gave the offenders not only time to get away, but time to prey on further victims without police knowing they were in the area.

"Victims or attempted victims should call 999 immediately and report it.

"Attempted victims should still ring 999, because Tuesday showed that not doing so allowed the offenders to target others without disruption."

The advice is for anyone who suspects a caller to be phoney to call 999, even if they have refused them entry.

Police are also advising families, children and friends of pensioners to be aware and ensure their elderly acquaintances are alert to the threat.

Insp Wright said: "Crime prevention and measures to protect vulnerable victims are essential here.

"Neighbours' vigilance is a great asset."

He added: "Distraction burglars have to be considered some of our most disgusting criminals as they prey on our vulnerable, senior citizens, attempting to deprive them of what they have worked for in their lifetimes.

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