Warwickshire Police have issued a warning to residents in Rugby to be extra vigilant after elderly people were targeted in a spate of burglaries in the area.
The incidents were reported on Wednesday, October 1, and occurred between the hours of 10am and 11am on Park Road and Holbrook Avenue.
A similar offence was also reported the same day at approximately 1.30pm on David Road in Overslade.
Callers told elderly occupants that they had bought the house next door and done some work to the roof and now needed payment or that they needed to be given access to the property to conduct work on the roof.
All offenders were white men aged between 30 and 50. One of the men spoke with a slight Irish accent and other offenders spoke with accents which were described as ‘difficult to understand’. They were also seen using a silver car of an unknown description.
Anyone who may have further information or has seen any suspicious activity is asked to contact police on the non-emergency 101 number and ask for DC Scott Fisher in Rugby Proactive CID.
Here is some advice on how to guard against distraction burglary:
• Sometimes the caller may be offering to do work on your property. Don’t agree to any work or sign for it on the spot instead ask a friend or relative to help you find a reputable trader. If the person is pressurising you to have work done, or refusing to leave, call 999
• Remember you do not have to let a stranger into your home even if they claim it is an emergency
• Ask to see their identification- does it look official and carry the company name? Does it have a photo which matches with the caller?
• Put the safety chain on before opening the door and keep it fastened whilst talking to the person
• Check that your back door is locked before answering the front door. Thieves have been known to work in pairs, with one entering through the back whilst you are distracted
• Ask the caller who they are and where they are from. See if they know who you are or if they have a prearranged appointment with you. If in doubt, keep them out
• If you get a knock at the door look out of the window or check through a spy hole before answering. Be suspicious if there is more than one person. See if the caller is wearing a uniform or if there is a company car outside
• If you are unsure close the door, look up the company name in the phone book or call directory enquires. If they are calling from your gas, electricity or water provider you would find a number on a recent bill. Call them to verify the callers identity
• Many companies now have free telephone numbers to check the identity of their workers. It may also help to keep a list of useful phone numbers in a handy place
• If the caller hands you a business card do not use the number to authorise their identity as they may have an accomplice who could answer the call
• If you are not reassured, don’t open the door and call the police on 999
• Gas, electricity and water companies as well as some councils, have a password system for older and vulnerable customers, contact them to set this up, then if a representative calls, they will be expected to give the password which is confidential to you and the company. This is especially useful if you live in a flat and need to give the caller access to a communal entrance
• If the caller claims they are from the “water board”, don’t open the door- this is a phrase no longer used by genuine callers.