Stunned widow leads fight against conmen

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AN ELDERLY victim of a burglary, who is from Bulwell, has joined forces with the police to encourage residents to be on their guard against conmen.

Raiders posing as handymen and representatives from utilities companies have been targeting pensioners and making off with hundreds of pounds in cash and jewellery.

In the last two months, there have been 14 reports, including one in Hucknall where two men claiming to be from the water board got into an OAP’s home.

Now the 89-year-old Bulwell victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, is warning others to be cautious.

She said: “You have just got to be so aware these days. People are not what they used to be.

“Keep your doors locked and don’t open them to anyone without identification.”

Police say the widow was confronted in her home by a man purporting to be from a water company at about 5.30 pm on Wednesday November 16.

He made the pensioner, who is recovering from a knee operation, stand at the kitchen sink and turn the taps on and off while he rifled through her belongings and made off with cash and jewellery of sentimental value.

Along with £100, he stole a heart-shaped watch, a gate bracelet, a hoop ear-ring and a unique ring made from a golfing medal from Bulwell Golf Club (1922 to 1926) featuring the name ‘T.Holmes’.

The woman said: “I just can’t believe it happened. He didn’t look like a shifty fellow. He seemed so caring and was such a gentleman.

“When he’d left and I found my money missing, I was so shocked. I feel so gullible.”

Despite her ordeal, she managed to get a good description of the burglar. He was white, in his 40s and unshaven with a sharp nose. He had short dark hair, was 5’4” to 5 6” tall and of medium build. He was wearing a navy jumper, trousers and dark Wellington boots.

Most distinctly, the man spoke with a north-eastern accent.

Other such distraction-burglaries are being investigated by police. Most have involved men claiming to be from water authorities, while others have said they are from gas companies and Nottingham City Homes.

There have also been instances in which the thieves have claimed to be selling raffle tickets for charity, offered to clear guttering and even asking to retrieve a ball from the back garden.

Det Chief Insp (DCI) Mel Bowden, who is leading the investigation, said: “While house-burglaries in Nottinghamshire have fallen by 38% this year, compared to last year, we have been experiencing a spike over the last few months.

“This is due to a group of cowardly men preying on vulnerable members of the community.

“These men are convincing and manipulative and use distraction techniques to get what they want from their victims, who are often frail and infirm.”

Police are urging residents to check identification of callers. DCI Bowden added: “If you are still unsure who is at the door, simply don’t answer it.”

Anyone with information is asked to ring the police on 101 or call the free and confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.