Bogus callers target Brighton's elderly

Posted On 05 Mar 2010 at 9:20 am

Conmen have stolen £4,000 while posing as police officers in a series of distraction burglaries and attempts in Brighton, Portslade, Lancing and Hurstpierpoint this week.

The conmen struck as police were preparing to publicise a national campaign to raise warn people of the dangers of bogus callers.

Two men knocked on the doors of homes in Hollingdean, Woodingdean, Hove, Portslade, Lancing and Hurstpierpoint, according to Sussex Police.

They proffered a form of police identification and told residents that their home had been burgled and asked them to check their valuables.

The pair are described as white, aged 30 to 40, and 5ft 7in to 5ft 11in.

One of the men had a proportionate or plump build, short brown hair and dark clothes, described by some residents as a black leather jacket or coat and gloves.

The other had a slim to proportionate build and wore dark clothes.

Detectives believe that they may have driven a dark medium sized or a pale larger car.

The men called on an 86-year-old woman in Davey Drive, Hollingdean, at about 11.20am on Monday 1 March but left empty-handed.

Just after 8am on Tuesday 2 March two men called on an elderly lady in Brighton Road, Hurstpierpoint. One showed the caller a black identification wallet and intimated to the occupant that they were police officers and wanted to check her property.

The lady asked why they were not in uniform and they left.

Several homes were targeted on Wednesday 3 March.

At about 4.30pm two men in black called at the home of a 67-year-old woman in Lockwood Crescent, Woodingdean, claiming her tap was running and needed to be turned off.

The pair produced ID and claimed to be from the “water board”.

The woman said that she would call the police and tried to close her door.

One of the men put his foot in the door but they didn’t manage to enter the house.

Two men in uniform claiming to be police officers knocked on the door of a 90-year-old woman in Vale Road, Portslade, at about 6pm.

One of them showed some form of identification and they asked the woman if she had lost any money.

They went into her home but left empty-handed about 15 minutes later.

Shortly before or after that incident two men appeared inside the home of a woman in her seventies in Valley Road, Portslade.

They said that they were police officers and that a window had been broken, although it was later found that a door had been forced. Again, they left empty-handed.

Two men called at the address of a couple in their eighties in the same road, at about 7pm.

Again using the ruse that a window had been broken they searched the house and stole more than £2,000 cash.

At about the same time, also in Valley Road, two men went to another address occupied by a lady in her eighties, claiming to be police officers, searched the house but took nothing.

Two men also called at two addresses in Orchard Avenue, Lancing, at about 7.30pm.

They said that they were police officers, searched the homes and took £700 cash from one address occupied by a couple in their late sixties and £1,300 from the other addresses occupied by a lady in her eighties.

Detectives believe that the offences are linked with a similar series of four crimes on Monday 18 January.

The first two incidents happened just before and just after 6pm respectively in Langley Crescent, Woodingdean, Brighton.

In each case a man called at the door and purported to be a police officer.

In one case he spoke of someone allegedly being on the roof but the 81-year-old woman resident refused to let him in.

At the second address occupied by an 86-year-old woman he walked in and went round the house before leaving with her handbag containing £30 cash, and a set of keys.

About an hour later three men posing as police officers called at an address in Drove Crescent, Portslade, occupied by an elderly couple, and claimed to be investigating a burglary there.

They entered and stole £120 cash. They are believed to have committed a similar offence in Crawley later that night.

Detective Sergeant Chris Sherwell praised alert householders whose response may have helped put off the would-be thieves in most of the latest incidents, and repeated advice on how to respond to this despicable type of crime.

Ensure that any neighbours or friends that you have, who may be vulnerable to this type of crime, because of age or some other reason, is aware of this type of crime.

Use your door chain when answering the door.

Check all identification offered carefully.

Consider calling the organisation that the caller states that they work for to confirm whether they are genuine – a bona fide caller will not mind this and many have come to expect it.

If you have any concerns over callers to your door and/or suspicious people in your area and they are still there or nearby please call the police on 999.

If you are made aware of a possible offence some time after it has happened and it is unlikely that the offenders are in the area please call the police on the non-emergency number 0845 6070999.

Anyone with any information as to the possible identity of the people involved in the latest series of burglaries and attempts or the vehicles that they may have used or who may have seen anything unusual or suspicious in the areas at the times shown are asked to call Brighton CIC on 0845 6070999.

Calls can also be made anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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