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Warning following distraction burglaries in Bristol and South Gloucestershire

Police hats on a car dashboard

Officers from Operation Remedy are investigating a series of distraction burglaries in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area.

A man and a woman have been targeting elderly people by saying they have been asked to visit them for a specific reason, often giving the name of someone. They then try to distract them, while attempting to steal items from the property.

There have been seven incidents spread across Southmead, Brentry, Shirehampton and Thornbury.

  • A woman in Elmfield Road, Southmead has been targeted twice. On Sunday 23rd August, a woman knocked on the door and tried to push her way in requesting some cold water. The victim denied her entry by pushing her to the chest and so the woman left.
  • On Sunday 30th August, a man visited the same property claiming to be a neighbour. The victim, who  had answered the door with the safety chain on, said she did not know the neighbour. When a neighbour came out of their house nearby, the man ran away and into a silver/light coloured car.
  • On Monday 24th August, another woman in Elmfield Road, Southmead was targeted. A woman, wearing a facemask, entered the property via the French doors and said she was there to tell her that one of her relatives had died. The woman left without taking anything.
  • On Tuesday 25th August, a man and woman attended the property of a man in Pensfield Park, Brentry. The victim was waiting for his carer to arrive and answered the door, where a man and woman walked into the house saying they had been sent to see if he was ok. The man searched the victim and took the wallet out of his trouser pocket, before leaving. The wallet had card and £100 inside.
  • On Monday 31st August, a couple were targeted in Pembroke Road, Shirehampton. A man and a woman have knocked on the door and said they needed to speak to the occupant’s wife. They then stole a quantity of cash and jewellery.
  • On Friday 4th September, a vulnerable woman was targeted in North Road, Thornbury. The victim’s carer has discovered a man in the hallway, who asked about a mountain bike which was advertised. The carer asked the man to leave, which he did. The victim later noticed money missing from her purse.
  • On Saturday 5th September, a woman with restricted mobility was targeted in Buckingham Parade, Thornbury. – The victim was expecting her carer and had left her back door unlocked but closed. A man and woman entered through the door, with the man going into the living room towards the bathroom, while the woman said he was going to make a cup of tea. They looked through the victim’s handbag, but nothing was taken.

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.

Designated Investigating Officer from Operation Remedy, Alastair Binnie, said: “The suspects are callously targeting elderly and vulnerable people at night, often around the time when a carer is due to visit. This has been distressing for all of the victims and so I would ask if anyone can help with the investigation to please get in touch. 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 you see any suspicious behaviour, then don’t hesitate to call 999.”

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 5220205133

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.