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LogoDetectives in hunt for distraction burglars

Police appeal after would-be distraction burglars target homes in Holmes Chapel and Alderley Edge.

Police are investigating after would-be distraction burglars targeted addresses in Holmes Chapel and Alderley Edge on Tuesday 12 June 2012.

Men purporting to be 'water board' officials called at homes on Capesthorne Road, Holmes Chapel, at around 12.15pm. They asked for access to the house to check the water supply. Their demands were challenged by the homeowner and the men, who were dressed casually and spoke with Irish accents, could not provide identification and left the area on foot.

At around 6pm, an elderly homeowner on Stamford Road in Alderley Edge was visited by a man purporting to be a representative from the 'Water Board'. He entered the house and distracted the elderly lady whilst his accomplice searched through the property looking for valuables.

Police are establishing whether the two incidents are linked.

In light of these recent incidents, Cheshire Police are urging local communities to offer support and crime prevention advice to elderly family members, neighbours and friends.

Inspector Mark Gammage of Congleton Neighbourhood Policing Team offers advice below to friends and relatives of elderly victims who may find themselves targeted by callous thieves and distraction-type burglars.

Police are keen to speak to anyone in the Holmes Chapel and Alderley Edge areas who who may have seen any people or vehicles behaving suspiciously, to contact Cheshire Police on 101. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police in Cheshire Offer Distraction Burglary Warning

Police in Cheshire are reminding those with elderly relatives, friends or neighbours to be extra vigilant against distraction burglars.

Relatives of elderly victims often speak about the trauma and distress that crimes such as this can have upon elderly or vulnerable members of our communities. Recent Home Office figures show that there are fewer victims of burglary than ever in Cheshire, however police are keen to build on this and reiterate safety messages to those who may be vulnerable to ‘bogus officials'.

Click to print your own A4 posterWe cannot stress enough the importance of keeping any elderly relatives, friends or neighbours well informed and well aware of the tactics used by ‘distraction' burglars who con their way into the homes of unwitting victims by posing as utility company officials, tradespeople, or even thieves who pretend to look for a lost pet.

These con-artists can appear to be genuine, some even produce fake identification, dress in a uniform, or disguise their getaway vehicle as a commercial van to make their guise appear genuine and deceive the victim into allowing them access to their home. Once inside, they will steal cash or valuables. We find that this can be particularly distressing for elderly people who may be robbed of sentimental jewellery or family heirlooms.”

The implications for the victim can be even further reaching, often the victims can become ill as a result of the trauma induced by the crime, and many are robbed of large amounts of cash which is not covered by insurance premiums. They can become fearful of living in their own home, and experience a drop in confidence.

The message from Cheshire Police is simple – do not allow anyone into your home without verifying their true identity. Any legitimate official or tradesperson would be happy for you to check their identity with a utility company. Similarly, never accept offers of handiwork or DIY from door to door callers or tradespeople.

If you have elderly relatives, neighbours, or provide care for anyone who may fall prey to this type of crime, make them aware of these messages. Police are always keen to hear from anyone who may have been approached at their home by a caller purporting to be from a legitimate company, or by anyone using an excuse to enter your home.”

Police are offering a quick reminder of some of the things you can do to improve the security around your home.

  • Stop – Are you expecting anyone? Do they have an appointment? Make sure the back door is locked. Some thieves work in pairs with the other one sneaking in the back door whilst you're at the front door.
  • Lock – Keep all of your doors and windows locked, even when you're at home.
  • Look – Out of the window or spy hole to see who is calling.
  • Chain – Put the door bar or chain on before you open the door.
  • Check the identity carefully – Ask for an ID card. Close the door and check using phone number from the phone book or relevant bill, not the one on the card.
  • Bogus callers often work in pairs; be aware of one person distracting you while the other steals your property.
  • Never employ trades people who call at your door – only use people recommended by someone you trust. Ideally get a couple of quotes from reputable companies.
  • Passwords - water, gas and electric companies operate a ‘password' facility. Contact your local branch for details.
  • If in doubt keep them out particularly if you're on your own. Ask them to make an appointment or come back later when someone else can be present in the house. Genuine callers won't mind. If you're suspicious then report the incident to the police.
  • You may help prevent them from burgling someone else.

The below advice can be offered to help a neighbour or family member:

  • Have a chat to them about being careful about any visitors they let into their house.
  • Offer to give them your telephone number then they can call you if they need any assistance or are unsure about who is at their front door.
  • Remind them to put on the door chain and look who the visitor is either out of a window or out of the spy hole in the door.
  • Remind them that if they have any unexpected callers they should check their ID.
  • Tell them if they have any suspicions about a caller then they should call the police. This could prevent someone else from falling victim to a bogus caller.

Thank you,

Watch Officer
Cheshire Police

Macclesfield Neighbourhood Policing Team 0845 458 6371
Police non-emergency number: 101

Other Homewatch pages of current relevance: Local crimes in the Macclesfield Division including Bollington, Kerridge and Pott Shrigley.

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