Staffordshire Police are warning people to be on their guard against suspicious callers at the door following three distraction-type incidents.
Relatives and friends of the elderly are encouraged to warn them against opening the door to such callers.
The advice comes after an incident in Meadow Road in Barlaston, on Thursday 3 May. At approximately 4.10pm a man knocked on the door of an 84-year-old woman claiming there had been an explosion nearby and that he needed to come in to turn her water off. He entered the house and was followed by a second man a short time later.
After being told to leave, the men left empty handed.
The first man is described as white, 5ft 6ins tall with an average build, short fair hair and a round face. He spoke with a Stoke accent and wore a dark, casual jacket fastened up to the top. The second man was white, 5ft 10ins tall, with a slightly heavier build than the first man. He was aged 30 to 35, with medium length dark hair and wore black, casual clothing.
The second incident took place in Surrey Road in Stafford at around 6.55pm the same day.
A man knocked on the door of a 79-year-old woman claiming to be from the water board, he told her he had been working around the corner and needed to check the colour of her water. While in the kitchen he closed the door allowing a second person to enter the house and steal items without being seen.
The first man is described as white, aged in his 50’s, 5ft 10ins to 5ft 11ins tall, with a medium build. He wore a dark cap, a beige bomber jacket and had an Irish accent. There is no description of the second person but a witness did see two men acting suspiciously in the area. They left in a light coloured, possibly gold, Toyota Avensis.
The offenders stole cash and a large amount of jewellery.
At around 3.15pm on Friday 4 May a third incident took place. A man attended the home of an elderly resident claiming to be from the water board and told her he needed to check the water supply. He entered the house but left empty handed.
He is described as white, aged late 30’s, with medium build, 5ft 5ins to 5ft 9ins tall, with short dark brown hair brushed back. He is described as having a pale complexion. He wore a black tracksuit top and dark bottoms.
At this time detectives cannot confirm that the incidents are linked and investigations are now underway.
Residents are encouraged to contact police if and every time they have suspicions about any caller at their door.
Even if someone claims to be an official - and that includes police officers and council representatives - people must get their ID checked out.
Residents are asked to remain vigilant at all times and to follow this advice:
- 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 state they are from a utilities company ask for your account number, they should have this, if not, do not let them in and tell them to leave, and that you are calling the Police.
- Always ask for ID, and check it.
- Do not allow anyone to carry work out on your home, or sell you anything when they cold call at the door. If you do require work to be done, INSTIGATE IT YOURSELF, by phoning three companies asking for like for like quotes. Then decide.
- Do not keep large amounts of cash in your home, you may think that you have the perfect hiding place, but these criminals will find it.
- Please remember there is no such company as the Water Board, Gas Board or Electric Board. These words are only used by offenders.
- Always report any suspicious behaviour to the police, if you think it is suspicious, it probably is.
- Keep your doors locked even when you are home.
- Residents should also follow the stop, chain and 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.
People can also use the Nominate a Neighbour (NAN) scheme which diverts cold callers to a neighbour who will check caller’s identity. NAN packs are available from either myself or your local police station.
Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to contact Staffordshire Police on 101. Alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.