POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION ABOUT DISTRACTION THEFTS

Police are asking Telford residents to stay vigilant after a series of attempted ‘distraction thefts’

Five incidents that we believe to be related have been reported across Telford. All took place on Wednesday 17 January between about 3.30pm and 7pm.

During these incidents a man – in three cases a group of two or three men – visited the home of an elderly or vulnerable person and falsely claimed to be from a water supplier, investigating a burst pipe or similar emergency. This claim has been an attempt to gain access to the property.

In four of these incidents, access to the property was granted by the residents. It appears that the visitors then searched the properties. One of the residents later noticed that some of their possessions were missing.

While these incidents are being investigated there will be an increased police presence in the area. Officers are conducting house-to-house enquiries and are also urging residents to come forward if they have seen or heard anything suspicious.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Taylor said: “We believe that these are incidents of distraction theft, where a bogus visitor pretends to be an official to gain access to a home, then steals from the occupant. In general, these thieves can be very convincing and will go a long way to make you think they have a legitimate reason for being there.

“Please remember that officials from gas, electricity, phone and water companies shouldn’t need to come into your home (for example, to test water pressure or repair a leak), even in an emergency. If for some reason they do need access, they should always send you a letter in advance to make an appointment. They should also invite you to check their ID card when they visit.
“If you’re in any doubt at all about a doorstep visitor, shut the door to them (don’t feel rude, legitimate staff will understand) while you phone the company they claim to be from and verify that the visitor is genuine. Use a phone number you know to be correct – not one the visitor gives you.

“If you live around Telford and you know an elderly or vulnerable person who might benefit from this information, please let them know to be vigilant about bogus visitors.”
If you’ve seen or heard something you think might be relevant to this investigation, please phone the police non-emergency number 101. Or, to report information anonymously, please phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.