Be on the alert for distraction burglars

Published on: 30 May 2017

POLICE are urging residents to be aware of a new tactic being used by distraction burglars following incidents in areas across the city, including Staple Hill and Mangotsfield.

Three households were visited over the weekend of May 6-7 by two men who talked their way in by saying they needed to check for damp.

In all three incidents, one man kept the resident talking while the other went into another room – and in each case property was later found to be missing.

The first incident happened in Horfield, between 5.30pm and 6pm on Saturday May 6. Two men called on a 79-year-old woman and tried to persuade her she needed work done on damp. She refused and they left but she realised her keys were missing.

The first man is described as white, in his 20s, about 5ft 8ins, medium build, with short black hair and was wearing black trousers and top. The second is white, in his 20s, about 5ft 4ins, stocky, with dark hair and was wearing a cap and dark clothing.

At about 3pm on Sunday May 7, two men called at the home of a 94-year-old man in Stockwood. He later found cash missing from his wallet, while between 3pm and 4pm that day a 79-year-old woman in Staple Hill had cash stolen from her purse after a visit from two men.

The first suspect in the Staple Hill incident was described as a white man, in his 20s, about 6ft tall, of medium build with tidy black straight hair and was wearing a blue boiler suit. The second man is also white, in his 20s, about 5ft 9ins, of medium build with wavy black hair.

These incidents happened over the same weekend as police arrested a man on suspicion of committing a burglary in Mangotsfield in April. In that incident a man called on a couple in their 80s, getting into the house by claiming to be from a gas company, and stealing a handbag. A 45-year-old man was arrested on May 7 and was later released under investigation pending further enquiries.

DC 3222 Alastair Binnie said: “We're determined to track down criminals who take advantage of vulnerable elderly people and take them to court. I’m keen to hear from anyone with any information which could help our investigation, especially residents who had similar callers.

"This sort of thing isn’t common but is very upsetting, and can be prevented: just remember, if you’re not sure, don’t open the door."

Officers have carried out house-to-house enquiries in the areas affected. 

Police recommend using a door chain and asking to see the identification of unexpected callers. Officers say if you are suspicious of a caller or feel unsafe, ring 999 straight away.

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