Preston Police: Bogus officials are stealing from elderly

Scam Alert - bogus officials in Preston
Scam Alert - bogus officials in Preston. Credit: Preston Police

A man has been arrested in connection to the robbery of an 88-year-old man in his home.

Conmen posing as bogus officials have got into the homes of elderly people in Preston and South Ribble, stealing purses, cash and jewellery.

They have shown fake ID, purporting to be from official organisations such as housing associations or utility companies.

The arrest comes after an 88-year-old man let a white man described by the police as around mid-50s, medium height and medium build, into his home on January 21, where he stole money from the pensioner’s bedroom.

It was one of eight similar incidents over the space of a few weeks since January.

PC Tim Phillips, from Preston Police, said: “There has been one arrest but that person has been released under investigation. We have got some CCTV footage from the incident on the 88-year-old man.

“The male was around the area when the incident took place and he matches the description. The description suggests that he was from a travelling fraternity.

“This could possibly account to why the incidents have quietened down because the travellers may have upped sticks and moved to another part of the country.”

Preston Police poster advice for the public
Preston Police poster advice for the public. Credit: Preston Police

Even though there have been eight incidents in the local area, PC Phillips believes that the worst is over.

He said: “We [the police] think that the incidents have quietened off now, they have tailed off and it certainly isn’t as prevalent as it was. The police activity and police enquiries has driven them to either another part of Lancashire or made them stop.

“I would suggest it has driven them to another area.”

The pensioner answered the door to the conman who told him that he needed to check the levels of damp in his home.

The victim told police the man had some form of ID badge clipped to his chest but he is unable to recall what the man said.

The conman produced a small object (described as looking like a magnet) from his pocket and told the victim he would use this device to check the damp levels.

The bogus official told the pensioner to carry on eating his breakfast while he looked around his home.

The man left the house and the 88-year-old man then checked his bedroom to find his savings had been stolen.

Police are continuing to focus on other lines of enquiry including CCTV enquires.

Preston Police is offering the following advice:

  • Before answering the door, stop and think whether you are expecting anyone.
  • Never agree to have any work done by someone who is just passing.
  • Ensure that your back door is locked if answering your front door to someone you don’t know.
  • Beware of anyone who says that they are in a hurry or it is an emergency, if you are in any doubt about a caller close the door and contact neighbours, friends or the police straight away.
  • If you have a door chain or spy hole use it until you are absolutely sure who is calling.
  • Check their identification and uniform.
  • If you are still not sure call the organisation, neighbour or the police.

If you know any information, get in touch with Preston Police on 101.

The cases will be featured on BBC One Daytime’s Crimewatch Roadshow Live this week.