A distraction burglar who has targeted five elderly and vulnerable victims in Brighton over the past few weeks is being sought by police.
The man, who wears a sweatshirt or t-shirt with the logo of the contractor Mears on it, has been calling on houses in the early to mid-evening, purporting to be working for Brighton and Hove City Council.
Having gained the trust of the occupant, he then takes the opportunity to steal from the property.
Detective Inspector Vicki Harris said: “We know that this type of crime is a problem at the moment but this man is a particularly despicable character and, as well as wanting to catch him, we really want to get the message out to the city’s elderly and vulnerable residents not to be taken in by him.
“It is also important that relatives and friends who have family members or neighbours who may be at risk warn them and watch out for them.
“Unless you are expecting a visit from a council official, someone representing Mears or indeed any other person, please don’t let them in.
“Any bona fide caller will be happy for you to check with their organisation but check their main telephone number yourself. Don’t call a mobile number that they provide you with.
“If you have been targeted by someone in this manner recently and you have your suspicions about them, please call us on 101 or if they’re at your door or in the area now, please dial 999 immediately.
“Don’t worry if you have any doubts, we would rather check it out than have another victim.”
The man who has been calling was described as white, in his early to mid-twenties, 5ft 8in to 5ft 10in tall, of slim build, with fair hair, clean shaven and wearing dark rimmed glasses.
He has been seen in a black or blue jacket and in a grey tracksuit and is wearing the Mears branded top. Whether this is a genuine top or has been created by the suspect is not known.
A spokesman for Mears said: “All of our operatives will make an appointment before calling and will never turn up unannounced.
“They have to carry an identity card and show it. If you want to check that they are genuine, you can call our contact centre on 0800 052 6140.”
On Friday evening (30 May) around 8pm, the doorstep conman targeted a man in Manor Green, claiming to have come to measure up for a bath and then stole several hundred pounds from a bedroom.
The same man is believed to have stolen about £200 from a woman in Ditchling Gardens at about 9pm on Thursday (29 May). He too was wearing a Mears shirt and said that he had come to measure up for a walk-in bath.
In the past week, similar descriptions have been given for an offender in Hartington Road and Roedean Road, both on Friday 23 May in and Hollis Terrace on Bank Holiday Monday (26 May).
Anyone with information about the man or who believes they have been targeted themselves is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, email email@example.com or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.