Police hunting crooks who prey on the elderly with distraction burglaries

Police produced this efit following an incident in Hatfield

Police produced this efit following an incident in Hatfield - Credit: Archant

CROOKS who have been preying on elderly and disabled victims across the county, distracting them with a water board guise while ransacking their homes for valuables, have been targeting homes in Crow country.

Police released this efit following a report from a Hatfield victim

Police released this efit following a report from a Hatfield victim - Credit: Archant

The distraction burglars have struck at least 13 homes in just three months, including a house in Royston, but police say there could be further unreported incidents.

Police released this efit after speaking to one of the Hitchin victims

Police released this efit after speaking to one of the Hitchin victims - Credit: Archant

The victims are between the ages of 77 and 93, with some of those suffering dementia, mobility problems, and partial blindness. In one case, burglars made away with an engagement ring from the victim’s late husband; in another, they stole £1,000 in cash.

Police, who have launched Operation Portage to catch those responsible, are searching for two men, who gain entry to elderly victims’ homes by pretending they are from the water board.

Three efits (pictured) of what the men may looks like were released to the Crow this week.

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DI Kay Lancaster, who is leading Operation Portage, said: “These men are not targeting 2.4 children households they are targeting elderly victims, the majority of who are on their own, and maybe who don’t have lots of family round them.

“Following these incidents, elderly people lose their trust in society, and may become housebound when they weren’t before.”

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As reported in the Crow, the incident in Royston took place on November 29 at a house in Mill Road. The 77-year-old victim was distracted by one man while another entered her house. An 18-carat gold bracelet was stolen along with a man’s signet ring with diamonds inset.

Police are linking this crime, as well as the others in the county, to similar cases in Bedfordshire, Thames Valley, and Lincolnshire.

They believe the men – who may follow their victims before striking – dip in and out of different counties, while travelling around the country. The last offence in Herts was just one week ago.

Police are urging residents, neighbours and family members to keep an eye on elderly people, and to report any suspicious incidents.

“These criminals are extremely convincing so if you open the door they will talk their way in,” said DS Mark Clawson.

“If you have older relatives or neighbours I would urge you to take some time to tell them not to open the door to anyone they aren’t expecting.”

Police are looking for at least two men, who have been striking mostly in the middle of the day, on a weekday.

Victims, some with difficulty, have given witness descriptions and police believe they are looking for two white men with Irish accents.

They are described as between the ages of 30 and 50, with one said to have a very slim build while the other is said to be larger.

They have not left any fingerprints or evidence behind and there are no vehicle descriptions, although police believe they will be using one.

Anyone with information can call the police non-emergency number 101.

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