Police investigating a distraction burglary in Thirsk are warning members of the public to be vigilant when people call unannounced at their door.
The warning comes following an incident in Croft Heads in the Sowerby area of Thirsk when a man tricked an 81-year-old woman to go into her rear garden while his accomplices, dressed as police officers, burgled her house.
Between 4.15pm and 4.30pm on Friday 28 September 2012, a man called at her home claiming to be carrying out some work on the property. While the woman was distracted by the first man, his two accomplices, dressed in dark blue or black clothing and wearing baseball caps with the word “POLICE” on them entered her home.
As she passed her door, the woman locked it, and unbeknown to her, locked the two men dressed as police officers inside.
After the first man left, she discovered the two men inside her home, she told them to leave and then called the police. The burglars got away with an amount of cash and a gold signet ring with the letter ‘R’ on it.
Police are appealing for witnesses and also warning other residents to be vigilant. They would like to speak to anyone who saw the men in the Thirsk area dressed in dark coloured clothing, with or without their police baseball caps. It is believed the first man, who had dark hair and was wearing a beige or grey zip-up top, also called at other houses in the street. Anyone who believes they may have been targeted by these men is also urged to contact the police.
Anyone with any information should ring North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Northallerton CID. Or you can pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Investigating Officer, Detective Constable Karl Middlemiss, said:
Distraction burglaries are some of the most cowardly and despicable crimes we come across. The offenders target the elderly and vulnerable in our communities, often leaving them devastated and feeling insecure in their own homes.
If you have any doubts about someone claiming to be a police officer, make them wait outside and call us on 101, a genuine police officer will not be offended and will be happy to wait outside. If they refuse to leave or if you feel threatened, call 999 immediately.
We would also ask relatives, friends and neighbours of elderly people to ensure they have adequate security and discuss advice on how to deal with cold-callers. Reassure them that keeping someone waiting or refusing to answer the door at the door is not impolite. A door chain is a useful way to prevent access to someone you are unsure of. Make them aware that all callers must carry identification and if they have any doubts, do not open the door.
Earlier this year, North Yorkshire Police launched a campaign to encourage elderly residents not to open their door to cold callers. The force produced an awareness video and have distributed thousands of leaflets and free door hangers to elderly residents.
You can watch the video on our website at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/boguscallers
Or, if you run a community or social group for older people, you can request a presentation from your local Safer Neighbourhood Team on how to beat bogus callers.
Please contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team for more information by calling North Yorkshire Police on 101.