Pensioners fall prey to bogus doorstep callers

ELDERLY pensioners have fallen prey to bogus callers in three incidents last week.

In all three cases, two men claiming to be from the water board turned up saying they needed access to homes. In two of the incidents money was stolen, and in the third they demanded cash from the householder before leaving.

Police are keeping an open mind as to whether they are connected.

The first theft took place in Front Street, Seaton Burn, at 9.45am on Wednesday when callers visited a woman in her 80s. She let them in and they left shortly afterwards, but she later discovered that her purse had been stolen from a bedroom.

At 2.07pm the same day an almost identical crime took place in Thornhill Road, Ponteland. This time the victim, a woman in her 90s, later found that cash had been stolen from upstairs.

In the third case that day men visited a home in Station Road, Gosforth, saying they needed to check the water supply. They then ‘charged’ the occupant, a woman in her 90s, a small amount of cash before leaving.

Superintendent Mick Paterson said: “We’re carrying out enquiries into all three incidents and would urge anyone who saw suspicious activity, including vehicles in the areas, or who has information about who these men are, to get in touch as soon as possible.

“It’s disgraceful behaviour to target the elderly and vulnerable in our communities and we’re doing all we can to trace those responsible.”

Police are urging residents to stay vigilant and not let strangers into their homes.

Supt Paterson said: “It’s vital residents, particularly the elderly, have the relevant crime prevention advice.

“They should never let anyone who cold calls at their home into their address, always check identification with the company and if in any doubt at all contact the police. All legitimate workmen who are associated with utility or other companies will be more than happy to prove their credentials.

“We’d also ask that people watch out for their elderly relatives and neighbours.”

Anyone with information about the thefts should contact police on 101, ext 69191, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.