Police are urging elderly residents in the Wrexham area to be on their guard following a spate of distraction burglaries this week.
Thieves posing as water board officials or handymen stole cash from two homes, but failed to steal anything in a suspected attempted burglary.
Last night we reported on distraction burglaries by men ‘pretending to be from the water board’, including a similar sounding incident over the weekend.
Today police have said that around 1pm on Tuesday April 10th (yesterday), a man with an Irish accent and wearing a hi-viz jacket attended an address in Ceidiog Road Wrexham offering to clean the gutters.
He asked to see the back of the house and while the elderly occupier escorted him, two other men, wearing black clothes entered the property. The victim noticed them walking down the stairs and challenged them. They said they were checking the gutters from upstairs.
They left when told that the police would be informed. The victim later found that an untidy search had been made upstairs and cash stolen.
Sometime after 2pm a man described as in his 40’s and politely spoken, tricked his way into a house in Westminster Road Brynteg, claiming to be from the water board and that he needed to run the taps.
The elderly resident let him in, but did not let the man out of sight and also checked with the water company to see if they had sent anyone. When they confirmed that they had not sent anyone to the address the suspect left.
In a third incident at around 6pm, men impersonating water board officials called at a house in Chapel Street Rhosymedre. They asked the elderly resident outside to look at pipes. One of the thieves then entered the house and stole cash from a sideboard.
DI Mark Hughes said; “Although no violence was used, the victims have been left frightened and distraught.
“Distraction burglary, targeting the elderly and vulnerable, is a particularly mean crime which the whole community rightly finds upsetting.
“I would like to remind residents that under no circumstances should they allow anyone into their homes unless they are 100% sure that they are legitimate.
“Council and authentic utility staff will carry identification, which should contain a phone number for verification. Don’t be fooled by hi-viz jackets and work clothes.
“Any genuine contractor will not mind waiting outside while you seek verification.
“I would also ask relatives and neighbours to look out for elderly and vulnerable people, to reinforce security advice and to encourage them to report any suspicious behaviour.”
Dee Valley Water has also issued a reminder to its customers to always check the identity of callers claiming to be from the water company.
Alexandra Ganley – Customer Support Manager from Dee Valley Water said: “We can’t stress how important it is for customers to check the identity of the person knocking on the door. It doesn’t matter how convincing they look, if they work for us they’ll be carrying an identity card and you can check that they work for us by ringing 01978 833200 to confirm they are who they say they are.
“We’d never try to get access to your home to fix pipes or to fit meters without making an appointment first and, even then, if you have any doubts, just call us to double check.
“Our colleagues fully expect customers to check their identity, either with a card or a call, and they’ll wait while you carry out the necessary checks.
“We also offer a doorstep password scheme where you can apply for a password in advance to make sure that the caller’s definitely from Dee Valley Water when they come to your home.”
Anyone interested in the doorstep password scheme can sign up by calling 01978 833200.
“If you’re in any doubt, just ring and check,” said Alexandra
With these reports Wales & West Utilities are also reminding local people that their team will always carry identification.
Phil Collins, Wales & West Utilities Customer Service Manager said: “Whether they’re responding to gas emergencies, connecting homes to the gas network or working on our gas pipe upgrade programme, all members of our team including contractors will be carrying an identification card and will be happy to show it if you ask. If you want to confirm one of our colleague’s identity call us on 0800 316 0478 and if you’re in any doubt if a caller is genuine, do not let them in.
“Bogus callers usually target the more vulnerable in our communities, so we’d really appreciate if people could share this information with family and neighbours.”
Wales and West say you can confirm one their our colleagues identity by calling 0800 316 0478 who can confirm identity – they add “If the person becomes pushy, or aggressive, call the Police immediately on 999, and if you’re in any doubt if a caller is genuine, do not let them in.”
Advice from police on ‘How to beat the bogus caller’:
– LOCK: Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.
– STOP: Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Look through the spyhole or window to see who it is.
– CHAIN: If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first. Keep the bar or chain on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep.
– CHECK: Check their details before you let them into your house.
If there is any doubt about the caller, call the police
If you have information about these crimes call 101. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or contact the control room direct via the web live chat.
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