Bogus callers robbing the homes of elderly and vulnerable

BOGUS callers posing as engineers from the water board are robbing the homes of elderly and vulnerable people in Barking and Dagenham.

Four residents, aged between 73 and 85, were targeted between October 20 and 26.

On October 22 a man claiming to be a water board engineer told an 85-year-woman in Fritzlands Lane Dagenham he was working on a neighbouring house and needed to empty the victim’s water tank.

After he asked her to hold the kitchen taps while he checked the tank, the woman became suspicious and telephoned her neighbour. She then noticed two men coming down her stairs and later found jewellery missing.

Two days later a man posing as an engineer asked a 73-year-old woman in Beverley Road, Dagenham to clear her kitchen cupboard so he could access her water pipes.

Her 38-year-old son, who was in bed upstairs, disturbed the second burglar while he was going through a bedside cabinet. The thief said he would get his ID, but both suspects left the house and didn’t return.

A similar incident happened at the house of a 73-year-old in Stanley Avenue, Dagenham the following day. This time thieves made off with cash belonging to the victim.

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Police say the suspects are aged between 25 and 45, have short dark hair, sometimes ‘swept back’ and speak with English or Irish accents.

A police spokesperson said: “These callous thieves prey on the good nature of our elderly and vulnerable residents and the effects of this crime go far deeper than a loss of property.”

She said bogus callers often work in pairs and usually claim to be from an agency that people would trust, like the council, the water board, or the police. One of them usually tries to keep the victim talking while the other burgles the home.

Barking and Dagenham Chief Inspector, Richard Godwin, said: “Residents should remember that it is their home and they decide who comes into it. If a caller is persistent dial 999.”

The police and the council have introduced ‘no cold calling zones’ and have visited the homes of vulnerable people to remind them of how to avoid becoming a victim.