Staffordshire Police are reminding people to be wary when answering the door to unexpected callers, following a number of recent distraction burglaries involving bogus Water Board officials across Staffordshire.
Since 1 September there have been four distraction burglaries in the area – two in Newcastle and one each in Burton and Lichfield. In each case the offenders claimed to be from the water board to gain entry. All the incidents took place between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on weekdays.
The incidents are as follows:
1 September – Curtis Court, Northfield Road, Burton (incident number 735 of 01/09/2017)
14 September – 49 Friarswood, Newcastle (incident number 658 of 14/09/2017)
5 October – Porthill Grange, Newcastle (incident number 465 of 05/10/2017)
10 October – Leomansley Court, Lichfield (incident number 593 of 10/10/2017)
The victims, aged between 86 and 101, were distracted by a man ‘checking’ the taps in the kitchen or bathroom, while a second man located and stole cash from the home.
Descriptions are of two white men aged 30-40 years old.
Anyone with information about any of the above incidents is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting the relevant incident number.
Detective Inspector Alan Lyford said: “These criminals tend to prey on the elderly, so I would urge family members, friends and neighbours of elderly people to remind them of the dangers surrounding bogus callers.
“There are no such companies as the Water Board, Gas Board or Electric Board. These words are only used by offenders, so be alert if they are used by anyone at your door.
“Our advice is clear and simple – if in doubt, keep them out.”
Residents are asked to remain vigilant at all times and to follow this advice:
DO NOT let anyone into your home unless you know who they are or what they are there for.
NEVER TRUST anyone calling at the door without a prior appointment. Should you receive such a call, leave the door locked. The caller will hear you through the door when you ask them who they are.
If they say they are from a utilities company, ask for your account number. They should have this if they are genuine. If not – do not let them in, tell them to leave and that you are calling the police.
ALWAYS ASK FOR ID, and check it. Even if someone claims to be an official – and that includes police officers and council representatives – people must have their ID checked.
DO NOT allow anyone to carry out work on your home or sell you anything when they cold call at the door. If you require work to be done INSTIGATE IT YOURSELF, by phoning three companies and asking for like for like quotes. Then decide.
Residents should also follow the STOP, CHAIN, CHECK rule when people call at the door.
STOP – If you are not expecting anybody and they don’t have an appointment, don’t let them in.
CHAIN- Use your door chain or bar before opening the door
CHECK – Ask to see ID and double check this.
Always report any suspicious behaviour to the police. If you think it’s suspicious, it probably is.
Keep your doors locked even when you are home.
Residents are encouraged to contact the police if, and every time, they have suspicions about any caller to their door.