Residents in Sefton are being advised to be vigilant after a series of distraction burglaries targeting the elderly.

Detectives at Sefton CID are investigating all the incidents, which have generally involved a bogus repair man tricking people into handing over cash after falsely claiming roof tiles were loose or damaged.

Officers are now reminding all residents across the borough to take basic, simple steps to ensure that they don’t fall victim to this kind of burglary.

The latest incident happened in Litherland last week. A 90-year-old woman was at home when a man knocked at her door at around 7.30pm on October 29th. When she answered he claimed he had carried out some repairs to her roof and needed paying. He then tricked his way inside the house and then distracted the lady by asking for a glass of water before stealing her purse.

Just two days earlier a 78-year-old woman was at home watching TV at around lunchtime when a man knocked at her door claiming to be from a social housing provider. The man told the woman that he was there to repair several loose slates on her roof and needed paying. When she went back inside to get her purse he followed her and pressured her into handing over all her cash before leaving in a hurry.

And a week before that on October 17th a 77-year-old woman was at home in Formby when a man claiming to be from the council called to advise some roof tiles were loose and needed repairing. He then talked his way into the woman’s house and managed to steal her purse containing cash and a diamond eternity ring.

Detectives believe that either same offender or a small number of different offenders are responsible for these crimes and others and are carrying out extensive enquiries to try and catch them.

Detective Constable Sue Demomme from Sefton CID’s burglary unit, said residents should always err on the side of caution and keep people who call unannounced waiting outside until they can be checked out.

She said: “The offender or offenders target mainly elderly people who live alone and keep cash in their house. By posing as an official from the council or social landlord they are trying to gain the resident’s trust or dissuade them from asking too many searching questions. However in these cases it has clearly been a con and the caller is not a genuine council repairman at all and there has not been any work necessary on the victim’s property.

“These criminals are extremely callous individuals who will think nothing of stealing someone’s weekly pension, someone’s life savings, or treasured family jewellery, leaving their victim heartbroken at both the intrusion into their home and the loss of their belongings.

“I would urge everyone in Sefton to be mindful of this issue and to not only be vigilant when answering their own doors to cold callers but also to look out for their neighbours , particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable in some other way.

“People should never feel uncomfortable or awkward about using their door chain first and then asking the caller to wait outside while they ether call the company they say they are from or verify their identity in some other way.

“Our advice will always be that if you have any doubts at all that someone is not who they say they are, do not open the door to them, ask them to wait outside or even leave and call a friend or relative or the police for advice.”

The offender in the three incidents above  is described as a white man aged in his 40s or 50s with greying hair and an unshaven face. He was wearing a dark-coloured jacket and dark-coloured trousers.
Anyone with information that could help detectives trace the offender is asked to call Sefton CID on 0151 777 3014 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. To report a crime in progress always call 999. In a non-emergency call 101.

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