West Midlands Police have issued another warning as two more elderly women fell victim to distraction burglaries yesterday. Officers believe the men responsible could be the same offenders who committed a spate of burglaries in the area two weeks ago.
Police have been hunting the thieves – both described as white men, of slim build, smartly dressed, possibly with Irish accents, one with glasses – since four offences were committed on the same day on 1 August.
Yesterday a 76 year old woman was targeted in Spiceland Road, Northfield and an 80 year old lady in Fordhouse Lane, Stirchley was also victim to the conmen. Both burglaries happened during the day and detectives are also probing whether a similar offence in Stechford could be linked.
On August 1st four victims, all elderly women, were targeted: an 89 year old in The Roundabout, Northfield, a 92 year old in Linden Road, Bournville, a 93 year old in Bournbrook Road, Selly Oak and another elderly woman in Meadow Park Road, Northfield.
At the time, detectives described the crimes as “despicable”. Today they are appealing for witnesses to come forward as they issue another warning for people to be extra-vigilant.
West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Gary Dring, said: “The men have been using similar stories by claiming to be checking water supplies and pipe work. They are cowardly thieves and my team is determined to catch them.
“I’ve got a number of officers working on this investigation and we are keen to hear from anyone who may have any information. We are particularly interested if anyone has seen any suspicious unfamiliar vehicles in their area, with smartly dressed men sitting inside. If so, give us a call.
“Until these offenders are caught, I would urge elderly residents to be very cautious about letting cold-callers into their homes.”
DI Dring added: “One of the men normally attends the address and while he distracts the householder, normally by moving them to another part of the house away from the front door, the second man sneaks in and carries out the search.
“There is no need for anyone working in the street or area to check your stopcock or water supply. No matter how plausible the story, don’t let them in. Utility companies all use ID cards and will happily wait outside whilst the householder rings the actual utility company for confirmation.
“The utility company number may be passed to the householder by the person at the door. This should be a landline, if not, it isn’t genuine. If in doubt don’t let them in and call the police. I would urge residents to look out for the elderly neighbours in their street and assist them in their efforts to confirm the identity of these cold callers.
“If in any doubt, call police on 101 to confirm the callers are actual officers. Don’t let anyone in unless you’re convinced they’re genuine.
“Distraction burglars are particularly cowardly and prey on the most vulnerable members of society, often the elderly. Please take time to visit elderly neighbours and speak to elderly relatives. If you do witness anything suspicious contact the police straight away.”
If someone calls at your door consider the following advice (please share this advice with elderly friends, neighbours and relatives):
- Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
- Always put the chain on before you open the door. Door chains are available from most DIY stores and high street outlets for as little as £2.
- If you don’t know the caller, ask to see their identity card. Check it carefully, and keep the chain on while you do this. Genuine callers won’t mind if you close the door while you check. If in doubt, telephone the organisation to verify they are genuine by using a number from the telephone directory and not a number given to you by the caller.
- Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property. The best practice is not to let them in.
- Always make sure any rear or side access doors are locked before opening the front door.
- Utility companies operate password schemes whereby, if you register a password with them, any caller purporting to be from that company will give you that password if they need to enter your property, otherwise don’t let them in. For more information contact your service provider.
- If in doubt, keep them out. Phone the police if you are worried on 101 and in an emergency dial 999.
Anyone with information is asked to phone Insp. Gary Dring’s team on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
For further home security advice visit: www.safer-homes.org