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Distraction Thefts

West Mercia Police LogoWest Mercia Police have warned residents to beware of distraction thefts by unexpected visitors. In a report on their website about an incident in Ellerdine, they also ask for information about the theft from a home in Heath Lane which took place last Tuesday (31 Oct. 2017) at about 10:30am.

The report states:

The victim, a man in his 90s, has received a knock at the door by an unknown man, he has then been distracted by the offender who has entered the property. He has then made an excuse and then left the victim and driven off in a white van. It is not until some time later the same day, the victim has noticed that his wallet and driving licence has been stolen.

The the offender is described as white man, between 45 – 50 years of age, medium build and wearing casual clothing.

A secondary incident also took place the following day (Thursday, 2 November), in which a woman in her 80s interrupted a potential burglary, when she discovered an unknown man in her home. She has later realised that her purse has gone.

Officers believe these two incidents are linked.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Taylor of Telford CID said, “We’d like to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour or activity in the area at the time. I’m also asking local communities to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity immediately.

“When leaving your property for any reason, whether it is going into the garden or talking to a neighbour within the area, residents are advised to ensure all windows and doors are locked, to prevent opportunist thieves entering the property.”

The report also provides a list of what people can do to protect themselves from becoming victims of distraction theft. These are:

  • check to see who is at the door by using your door viewer, or looking through a front window
  • always put the chain on before you open the door as this is a barrier against unwanted callers
  • when an unexpected caller claims they work for one of the utility companies, they must be able to quote your password and unique customer number and produce an identity card: all of the utility companies operate password schemes – contact the customer services department and set up a password with them
  • make a note of your customer number, which can be found at the top of the utility bill and keep it handy – this number is unique to your household
  • as added proof of identity, genuine trades people should carry an identification card with their photograph on -check this carefully and keep the chain on
  • if you’re unsure about the caller’s identity telephone the company the caller claims to represent, but don’t rely on them giving you the number as it may be false – genuine callers won’t mind waiting
  • if you’re still unsure, ask the caller to come back later so that you can arrange for a friend or relative to be present

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