Detectives in Bournemouth and East Dorset are issuing advice to members of the public after a number of elderly people have been targeted by distraction burglars.
So far, Dorset Police have received reports of five similar offences across the Easter weekend – all involving a man stealing, or attempting to steal, money after deceiving his victims.
Detective Sergeant Andy Bell, of Bournemouth CID, said: “We are now investigating a spate of similar distraction burglaries that have taken place over the last 36 hours and it’s important that members of the public are aware that these crimes have taken place.
“In each case, the offender has gained access to the victim’s property by pretending to inspect fences on behalf of the council or repair damage to the premises. Taking advantage of the victim’s trust, the trickster has then stolen money from handbags and purses.
“I believe that at least some of these offences are connected and it’s vital that anyone with information about any of these crimes contacts Dorset Police – in confidence – as soon as possible.”
Four distraction burglaries were reported on Good Friday, in Bramley Road and Long Road in Kinson, the Bascott Road area of Wallisdown, and Dales Drive in Wimborne. A further attempted distraction burglary was reported at 9.13am on Saturday, 19 April, at Worley Way in Ferndown.
The offender has been described as a white man, aged in his early twenties, of slim build and around five feet ten inches tall. No arrests have been made.
DS Bell continued: “Victims of bogus callers or distraction burglaries are usually elderly and live by themselves and I’d urge everyone to help reduce the chance that the people you care about and your elderly neighbours are subject to this type of crime.
“I also urge people not to store large amounts of money and valuables in one area and to ensure that good locks are fitted to doors.
“Do not buy, sell or sign up to any work on the doorstep no matter how urgent they say the work is. If you are suspicious of the caller’s intentions, tell them to go away and call a family member or neighbour and inform the police on 101. If they won’t leave, then call 999.”
Members of the public should consider the following advice when answering the door:
LOCKED – Is the back door locked?
STOP – Am I expecting anyone?
CHAIN – Put the chain on BEFORE opening the door.
CHECK – Ask for the caller’s identification. Shut the door leaving the caller on the doorstep and phone the number in the phone book NOT the one on the card they give you, as this could be an accomplice around the corner – especially if it is a mobile number. A genuine caller will be happy to wait while you do this.
Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101, quoting incident number 18:136. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.