Elderly Dunstable Woman Caught Out By Distraction Robbery

  • Bedfordshire Police is issuing a warning to residents about distraction burglary, after receiving a further report of an incident targeting a vulnerable victim’s home.

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On Saturday 24 October, at around 12.30pm, a man claiming to be from the local authority gained entry to the home of a woman in her 90s in Union Street, Dunstable, telling her he needed to check her water pressure due to possible flooding in homes in the street.

The woman let him into her kitchen where he ran the taps and kept her talking for a few minutes. He then said the water pressure was better, and left the property.

After he was gone, the victim noticed that her bedroom had been searched and cash had been stolen from her handbag. It is believed that a second person may have entered the address, whilst the victim was kept talking in the kitchen.

The offender is described as a white man, aged between 40-50 years, 6-foot-tall and of large build. He was wearing a face covering, but the victim believes he was clean shaven. He was wearing tight fitting dark clothing.

Detective Constable Jason Wheeler, who is investigating, said: “This brazen offender deliberately targeted an elderly vulnerable lady around lunchtime on Saturday, and the street would have been fairly busy at this time in the afternoon.

“I would urge anyone who knows the identity of this man, or anyone who may have seen or heard any suspicious activity in the area that afternoon to contact the police.

“If anybody else in this area has had a stranger knock on their door, I would also like to hear from you, along with anyone who may have CCTV footage of someone matching this description, or dash cam footage of Union Street around this time.

“I would encourage people with elderly neighbours, friends or relatives to remind them about staying vigilant around who they let into their homes.

“Offenders will often claim to be from local authorities, or utility companies, in order to gain a householder’s trust, but no matter how urgent or convincing they seem, nobody should accept any unsolicited visitors without checking the person’s credentials before letting them into your home.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the police on 101, or visit the online reporting centre, quoting reference number 40/58024/20.

Alternatively you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.

This is the seventh such report of bogus tradespeople targeting the elderly and the vulnerable since the beginning of September, Bedfordshire Police is asking for your support in encouraging your vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours to take extra care when answering the door to people they do not know.

Please remind others of the advice below:

• Where possible, only answer the door if you know a member of your family, a friend, a carer or a pre-arranged tradesperson is visiting.

• If you have an unexpected caller, use a door chain, or speak to them through a window.

• Ensure any other doors to the property are locked before you answer the front door.

• If unsure of the visitor's identity, always ask for their ID first and telephone the company they are purporting to be from. Use the telephone number listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider.

• Many service providers, when they are making the appointment with you, are happy to arrange for their representative to use a password of your choosing.

• Never agree to any work that the caller claims needs to be done to your home. It is okay to say NO and turn the person away. If they are genuine, they will rearrange.

• If you are able, report the incident to the police on 101 with as much detail as you can provide.

• Even if the person at your door gives you a convincing story as to why they need to enter your house, if you were not expecting them, turn them away immediately and report it to the police on 101.