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UPDATE: Distraction burglaries – Bristol and South Gloucestershire

Police hats on a car dashboard

Officers from Operation Remedy who are investigating a series of distraction burglaries are appealing for witnesses after another one took place yesterday (17/9) in Yate.

At around 5.45pm two men attended the property of an elderly woman in Rodborough. One man approached the door and spoke to the occupant, before walking her round the side of the house. The other man was hiding in a bush and ran into the house while the woman was distracted. A neighbour witnessed it and ran out to stop them.

The first man is described as white, around 35-years-old, approximately 5’8’’ tall and of medium build. He had short, cropped light brown hair and was very smartly dressed in a light blue shirt, navy trousers and brown coloured shoes, He was also carrying what appeared to be a blue laptop case in his hand, and was wearing a blue surgical type mask across his face.

The second man is described as white, middle aged and wearing a dark coloured cap. He had longer hair that appeared to be tied up in a ponytail.

Designated Investigating Officer from Operation Remedy, Alastair Binnie, said: “This is the eighth incident we have had in the area over the past few weeks where elderly people are targeted. Luckily, in the majority of the cases, the offenders have been unsuccessful in stealing anything, however it has been incredibly distressing for the victims. If anyone has seen any suspicious activity that they think could help with our investigation, then please get in touch immediately.

“I commend the quick thinking of the neighbour who helped to stop this. I would also urge anyone with elderly relatives, friends or neighbours, to check in on them to remind them about the important safety advice for dealing with cold callers coming to the door. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call 999.”

The other seven incidents, which have involved a man and a woman targeting elderly people, have been spread across Southmead, Brentry, Shirehampton and Thornbury.

  • A woman in Elmfield Road, Southmead has been targeted twice, on 23rd and 30th August
  • Another woman in Elmfield Road, Southmead was targeted on 24th August
  • On 25th August a man in Pensfield Park, Brentry was targeted
  • A couple were targeted in Pembroke Road, Shirehampton on 31st August
  • On 4th September, a vulnerable woman was targeted in North Road, Thornbury
  • A woman with restricted mobility was targeted in Buckingham Parade, Thornbury on Saturday 5th September

The man is described as white, 5ft 8in tall, very thin, with long straggling hair, who spoke with an accent, possibly Irish.

The woman is described as white, 5ft 8in tall, with long dark hair and dark clothes, who also spoke with an accent, possibly Irish.

Safety advice for dealing with cold callers coming to the door:

  • Don’t leave doors or windows unlocked
  • Be wary of leaving doors or windows that are easily accessible open for long periods of time
  • If a relative or carer needs regular access to the house, ensure they have a key
  • If you have a safety chain on your door, ensure its on before opening the door
  • If you don’t have a safety chain, consider getting one fitted
  • If you don’t recognise them, always ask to see their ID to ensure they are who they say they are, even if you are expecting someone
  • If they can’t provide ID or you are still not sure, make them wait outside while you contact the organisation that they claim to represent
  • If you are at all concerned, report them to the police via 999

If you can help, please call 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5220211839

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.