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Issue:- 7 November 2014

Warning to Sefton Residents be vigilant after a series of distraction burglaries

RESIDENTS in Sefton are being advised to be vigilant after a series of distraction burglaries targeting the elderly. Detectives at Sefton CID are investigating all the incidents, which have generally involved a bogus repair man tricking people into handing over cash after falsely claiming roof tiles were loose or damaged. Officers are now reminding all residents across the borough to take basic, simple steps to ensure that they don't fall victim to this kind of burglary. The latest incident happened in Litherland, on 29 October 2014. A 90 year old woman was at home when a man knocked at her door at around 7.30pm, that night. When she answered he claimed he had carried out some repairs to her roof and needed paying. He is then reported to have tricked his way inside the house and then distracted the lady by asking for a glass of water before stealing her purse. Just 2 days earlier a 78 year old woman was at home watching TV, at around lunchtime, when a man knocked at her door claiming to be from a social housing provider. The man told the woman that he was there to repair several loose slates on her roof and needed paying. When she went back inside to get her purse he followed her and pressured her into handing over all her cash before leaving in a hurry. A week before that, on 17 October 2014, Merseyside Police say that a 77 year old woman was at home, in Formby, when a man claiming to be from the Council called to advise some roof tiles were loose and needed repairing. He then talked his way into the woman's house and managed to steal her purse containing cash and a diamond eternity ring. Detectives believe that either same offender or a small number of different offenders are responsible for these crimes and others and are carrying out extensive enquiries to try and catch them. Detective Constable Sue Demomme from Sefton CID's burglary unit, said residents should always err on the side of caution and keep people who call unannounced waiting outside until they can be checked out. She said that:- "The offender or offenders target mainly elderly people who live alone and keep cash in their house. By posing as an official from the Council or social landlord they are trying to gain the resident's trust or dissuade them from asking too many searching questions. However in these cases it has clearly been a con and the caller is not a genuine Council repairman at all and there has not been any work necessary on the victim's property. These criminals are extremely callous individuals who will think nothing of stealing someone's weekly pension, someone's life savings, or treasured family jewellery, leaving their victim heartbroken at both the intrusion into their home and the loss of their belongings. I would urge everyone in Sefton to be mindful of this issue and to not only be vigilant when answering their own doors to cold callers but also to look out for their neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable in some other way. People should never feel uncomfortable or awkward about using their door chain first and then asking the caller to wait outside while they ether call the company they say they are from or verify their identity in some other way. Our advice will always be that if you have any doubts at all that someone is not who they say they are, do not open the door to them, ask them to wait outside or even leave and call a friend or relative or the Police for advice." The offender in the 3 incidents above is described as a white man, aged in his 40s or 50s, with greying hair and an unshaven face. He was wearing a dark coloured jacket and dark coloured trousers. Anyone with information that could help detectives trace the offender is asked to call Sefton CID on:- 0151 777 3014 or Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111. To report a crime in progress always call:- 999. In a non-emergency call:- 101.

Devastated mum appeals to thieves to return jewellery

A devastated mum is appealing to thieves who burgled her Wirral home last weekend to return precious items of jewellery given to her by her dead son. Adele Hardman arrived at her home on Fieldway in Wallasey, on Saturday, 1 November 2014, to find that she had been burgled. The worst devastation was in her bedroom, where thieves had emptied the whole dressing table of jewellery boxes. Among the items taken were 2 of her most precious pieces of jewellery; a 9ct custom made gold necklace with a pendant depicting 4 playing cards.

On the back it reads:- "To Chris, you are my shining star, Love Forever, Kayl x", and was given to Adele's son, Christopher, by his girlfriend. The 2nd is a pendant that contains a picture of Christopher. Christopher died, aged 15, on 25 October 2004, after suffering Oseteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer. Adele said:- "It makes me feel sick that someone has been in my house and gone through all my things. But if that's not bad enough, they've taken such precious items that give me such fond memories of my son, and on the 10th anniversary of his death and his birthday this Sunday. It brings it all back to me. As well as the items of jewellery there are other personal items from my son, such as letters and notes. Whoever took these things will know exactly what they are, and I just want them all back. I used to get them out and read them to remember Christopher and I can't now because they're gone." Detective Paul Parry from Wirral CID said:- "The thieves will probably not have been aware of what they stole as they took all the jewellery boxes. But they will now have had time to go through everything and realise that they've taken some items of huge sentimentality. I'd like to appeal to their conscience and put themselves in Adele's position and think about how they'd feel if this happened to them. All we're asking is for them to do the right thing and find a way to get them back to their rightful owner." Police believe the burglary occurred sometime during the evening of Friday, 31 October 2014, and into the early hours of Saturday morning. A laptop computer and cash were taken along with the jewellery. Anyone who has any information is asked to call:- 0151 777 2262 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on:- 0800 555 111.

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