Great Britain

Up to eight pensioners in Preston including a 92-year-old woman targeted by 'despicable' doorstep fraud gang posing

Thieves posing as officials from housing associations tricked their way into the homes of eight elderly or vulnerable people in Preston, police say.

In every case, the men, who all spoke with an Irish accent, told the victims they were calling from official bodies to trick their way into the property.

Police are appealing for information in connection with eight bogus official burglaries

Police are appealing for information in connection with eight bogus official burglaries

The most recent incident happened on last Tuesday (January 20) on Old Hall Drive in Bamber Bridge.

A man tricked his way into a house, distracted an elderly man, 88, and stole £180 cash. He is described as white, around 5ft 7ins, with a scruffy, unshaven appearance and was wearing a cap.

Police have described the incidents as "despicable crimes against vulnerable and elderly victims".

In the other incident, which police believe are linked, victims were targeted in a similar manner.

On Saturday, January 18, a 71-year-old woman was called by a man acting as a police officer. She was told to to the upstairs of her address in Ribbleton, Preston whilst he stole her purse. He was white, around 5ft and spoke with a local accent.

Two days earlier (January 16), a man with an Irish accent and in his 50s, talked his way in to a woman’s house in Carlisle Street, Preston, saying he was there to inspect the walls of the property.

He has asked the woman, 91, for some money for a bus. She refused and he left. He is believed to be white, around 5ft 8in and of slim build and was wearing dark clothing.

The same day, a man pretending to be from a housing association again, asked to inspect the walls of a home in the Plungington area of Preston.

He has told the victim, a 57-year-old, visually impaired man, that he can save him money on his bills and offered decorating services. The offender - described as white, in his late fifties, wearing a flat cap and spoke with an Irish accent - left when the victim said they were expecting a visit from someone.

There were two more incidents on Thursday January 9, one of which was in Ashton, Preston. A man purporting to be from a housing association said he needed to check the walls of a property where a woman, 88, lives.

When the victim was in her bathroom, the thief stole jewellery and £500 cash. He is said to be white, around 5ft 3ins, with curly, collar length hair and a scruffy appearance. He spoke with an Irish accent and was wearing a high visibility jacket.

The second burglary on the same day was in Deepdale, with a similar story told to the victim, an 88-year-old woman. When inside, the man stole money from the woman’s handbag. He was white, aged 40 to 50, wore a dark jacket, dark trousers along with dark shoes and spoke with an Irish accent.

Two days previously (Tuesday, January 7), a man conned his way into the home of a 92-year-old woman in Ingol. Again, he claimed to be from a housing authority. Fortunately, nothing was stolen. He is believed to be white, in his mid-twenties and was wearing a brown jacket.

Later that day on the same street, a number of men were seen knocking on doors, asking elderly residents whether they need work doing on their property.

And on Saturday, January 4, a man described as white and in his thirties with an Irish accent, talked his way into the home of an elderly woman and stole a purse and bank cards.

PC Tim Phillips from Preston Police said: “These are despicable crimes against vulnerable and elderly victims.

“These con artists have been posing as people from genuine organisations to be allowed in people’s homes where they have distracted or confused their victims with a story, to take their purses, money and jewellery.

“Despite current reports being confined to the Preston and South Ribble, these people may try elsewhere and so I am reminding people to be vigilant and if you get this type of visitor, report it to the police immediately on 999.

“People who commit these offences will often target the elderly posing as officials to gain their confidence and trust. If you have an elderly friend or relative, please let them know that this happening so they can avoid becoming a potential victim.”

Anybody with information about these incidents can contact us on 101 or email [email protected] quoting incident reference LC-20200127-0273.

Alternatively independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

If you believe there is a bogus official on or in your property now, please call 999 immediately.