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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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'Dishevelled' trickster distracts pensioner to steal cash from Cumbria home

A cold caller tricked his way into a Cumbria home to steal cash from a pensioner

Police are warning residents to be vigilant after the offender who claimed to be checking water systems snatched a small amount of cash from a Carlisle home.

The thief, believed to be in his late 20s, knocked on the door of the victim’s home in Richardson Street, Denton Holme, on Friday.

After introducing himself at about 4.30pm, the man described as small, thin and dishevelled, distracted the elderly occupant and stole money from a bedroom.

He was wearing dark clothing and a hat.

Cumbria Police PCSO Chris Foster said: “We have stepped up patrols in the area, and there are some significant lines of enquiry being followed up, but I would remind people to be vigilant about anyone calling without a prior appointment. “Always ask for identification, call the company to check the person is who they say they are, and if in doubt, just close the door and contact the police.

“While Cumbria is a very safe place to live, we want to ensure we keep it that way and it is therefore important to be vigilant for bogus callers, as not all burglars break into homes.”

Witnesses can contact Cumbria Police on 101 and ask for PC 2088 Sarah Dodd or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The following advice has been issued by police:

Always lock your doors, front and back, day and night. This will prevent someone sneaking in the back door if a bogus caller keeps you talking at the front.

If you have a door chain, put it on before you open the door to an unexpected caller, and keep it on while you are talking to them. If you don’t have a door chain, open a small window instead.

Ask callers who you don’t know for proof of their identity. Genuine callers should have an identification card with their photograph on, and will not mind handing it over to you and waiting while you close the door and check the details.

Telephone the company they say they are from, but never use a number shown on the card or provided by the caller.

If you are in any doubt, keep them out, and tell them they will have to make an appointment. You can then arrange to have someone with you if they keep the appointment.

Cumbria Trading Standards have introduced the Nominated Neighbour Scheme which provides additional protection for elderly or vulnerable people who live alone, enabling a neighbour or relative to check a cold caller on their behalf.

Many utility companies offer a password identification system. Any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity.

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