A campaign to protect vulnerable people in communities across Wrexham has been launched after callous thieves stole £20,000 from one elderly resident.
The incident, which took place in the Wrexham Rural policing area, is one of a number of distraction burglaries and thefts to have taken place in the county borough in recent months.
Distraction burglars often target the elderly and vulnerable. The thieves masquerade as council or utilities workmen who knock on the door of a potential victim, questioning the quality of their water or the gas supply. Locally there have been a series of incidents where individuals pose as members of the ‘water board’.
On gaining access to the home, the bogus workmen engage the occupant while an accomplice enters another part of the property and steals property, usually cash.
While councils and the utility companies advertise that all genuine visitors must have a pre-arranged appointment, that message isn’t always received or fully understood by some vulnerable people.
Now in a bid to raise awareness of distraction burglaries and help prevent vulnerable and elderly people from becoming victims of crime, police have launched a campaign with local pharmacies in villages across Wrexham
Police say that as well as using social media and the press to get the messages out, officers from Safer Neighbourhood Teams have visited social groups such as the Women’s Institute and other social gatherings to offer crime prevention advice.
However such methods don’t always reach all the right audiences or those who are most at risk.
Officers have since teamed up with pharmacies, Rowlands, Well Pharmacy, Alexander and Norche which have numerous chemist shops in villages around Wrexham.
As part of the campaign an information leaflet will be handed out to elderly residents when they collect their prescriptions.
Explaining the initiative, PCSO Amanda Collins said: “Many elderly residents are on medication. Local pharmacy chains have agreed to include an information and advice leaflet when they hand over bags of medication.
“The information on the leaflet has been approved by the Pharmacy Superintendent is delivered to each pharmacy by a local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
“Pharmacy assistants will include a leaflet with every prescription. Records will be kept by pharmacies to ensure costs are minimised and that patients who receive weekly medication do not get a leaflet each week.
“No confidential information will be divulged to the police and likewise the pharmacies do not know which residents have already been victims.”
The project is still in its infancy so there has been little concrete analysis of its impact so far. However, if it is successful, it is hoped that other areas and pharmacies will follow suit.
Advice on how to keep your home safe from cold callers can be found on the North Wales Police website.