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Alert and appeal over distraction burglaries – Bath, Bristol and South Gloucestershire

Image shows a door chain
Always check a caller's identification

We’re urging people to be alert and check on vulnerable elderly relatives and friends. The call comes after distraction burglaries at senior citizens’ homes in Bath, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

On Tuesday 18 December:

  • just before 6pm a man called on the home of a 90-year-old woman in Rose Acre, Brentry. He claimed to be delivering a washing machine. The woman described him as white, aged about 20, about 5ft 6ins tall, with dark hair. He wore a navy anorak with hood up and possibly a peaked cap under the hood. We’re not sure if anything was stolen
  • between 7pm and 7.15pm a man called on a 92-year-old man in Kingsway, Little Stoke. He said he was a police officer and kept the householder talking, claiming there had been a burglary. Meanwhile a second suspect got in through a back door and stole cash. The caller was a white man in his 30s, about 5ft 6ins tall, wearing a smart jacket and with his face partially covered. The second suspect wasn’t seen
  • between 7pm and 7.30pm a man pushed his way into the home of a 94-year-old woman in Thicket Avenue, Hillfields when she answered the door. Again he claimed to be a police officer and said there were burglars in her garden. He was white, in his 30s, with dark curly hair, wearing a navy blue hoody. Stolen were cash, a mobile phone and a purse

On Wednesday 19 December:

  • at about 7.45pm a man walked into a 91-year-old woman’s home in Lakewood Road, Henleaze. He said he was a police officer and there had been a burglary. He was was white, aged about 27, about 5ft 8ins tall, of medium build with a round ‘chubby’ face. The woman went to check her bedroom. She found the window had been forced and the room searched. When she returned to her sitting room that too had been searched and the man was gone. An 18 carat gold wedding ring, inscribed with the initials WA and WS and a date in July 1958 had been stolen. Thieves also took cash, a Marks and Spencer gift card and a gold chain with a gold-coloured pendant about three-quarters of an inch tall and roughly the shape of a map of England
  • between 8pm and 9pm a white man in his 40s with dark clothing called on a 71-year-old woman at Sydenham Buildings, Bath. He claimed to be a police officer but left, empty-handed, when challenged

Detective Sergeant Laura Miller said: “Any genuine police officer will expect to show you identification and to wait while you call 101 to verify it if you’re unsure. We’ve carried out house-to-house enquiries and issued an alert through Neighbourhood Watch. This sort of doorstep crime is quite rare. However it can be very distressing for vulnerable older people and we’re targeting our patrols in these areas to provide reassurance.

“Please make your family or friends aware of these incidents and talk to them about the simple steps they can take to deter these criminals. If you see someone acting suspiciously at a neighbour’s property call us straight away. Ring 999 if a crime is being committed, otherwise call 101.”

Our doorstep crime prevention tips include:

  • never open the door to an unexpected caller until you’ve checked their identification – use a door chain or viewer, intercom or a ‘smart’ doorbell. Genuine callers expect it
  • if you’re not sure, don’t open the door
  • if you are suspicious of a caller tell us straight away – ring 999 if you feel threatened or intimidated, otherwise call 101
  • keep your cash in the bank, not at home
  • keep windows and doors secured if you’re not in the room
  • if you see someone calling door-to-door, but only on frail or elderly neighbours, call 999 straight away
  • join Neighbourhood Watch

More home security information

If you can help, please call 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5218279290

You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form.

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.