Vigilance message to Cotswolds residents after elderly victim targeted in distraction burglary

Police are reminding the public to be vigilant after an elderly woman in the Cotswolds was the victim of an attempted distraction burglary.

The attempted theft happened at an address on Whiteway View in Cirencester at about 3pm yesterday afternoon(May 12).

The victim - an elderly woman in her 90's - was at home when three men approached her house and said that her son had arranged for them to repair her guttering. One of the men went into the house with the victim, while two other men arrived in a white lorry and placed a set of ladders against the wall of the house. The two men who were outside then entered the house and began searching it. One of the three men then had a conversation with the victim asking her how she intended to pay for the work that they had done, to which the victim replied that she didn't have any money to pay and the three men then left.

No money or items were taken from the house.

The first man is described as white, in his 20's and around 5ft 6ins tall. He was of thin build, with short, dark hair and tidy in appearance wearing casual clothing.

The second man is described as white, in his 60's and about 6ft tall. He was of large build with short greying hair and was wearing torn blue jeans.

The third victim was white, about 55-years-old and around 6ft tall. He was of slim build with dark hair and was wearing smart-casual clothes.

Inspector Karen Ellis from the Cotwolds Neighbourhood Policing Team said "Firstly I'd like to commend the victim for being so switched on and not allowing herself to be duped by these individuals. It can be extremely intimidating to be a victim of this type of crime, so for the lady to remain calm and not hand over any money was incredibly brave.

"We take crimes of this nature very seriously and my team will be thoroughly investigating this. We have carried out house-to-house enquiries in the area, however I would encourage anyone who may have been on Whiteway between 2.30pm and 3pm on the 12th and may have seen three men in a white lorry in the area to contact us."

Kim Mowday, from Gloucestershire Police's Community Harm Reduction department said  “Gloucestershire Constabulary is working with vulnerable and elderly people to make them aware of the methods of distraction burglaries and advise them what to do if a stranger calls, but we need your help. Working together we can ensure vulnerable members of our community are safe and those who prey on them are locked up.” 

Crime Prevention advice – 

The following simple steps will help reduce the possibility of being targeted by bogus callers: 

  • If someone knocks on your door check who it is by looking through a window or peep hole.
  • If it is not someone you know or trust or a business caller who has made a pre-arranged appointment, do not open the door.
  • This advice applies whatever uniform the caller appears to be wearing or ID card they are carrying and however urgent their business claims to be.
  • Tell unexpected callers to leave and come back later at an agreed time when you can have someone with you.
  • In the meantime, check their credentials by calling the organisation they claim to represent. Do so by looking up the number in the phone book rather than relying on the one on their card as this could simply put you through to an accomplice of a potential offender.
  • Genuine staff from utility companies won’t mind waiting while you do this or will call back later.
  • Watch if the caller appears to be in a hurry and never feel pressured or embarrassed into letting someone in.
  • The golden rule is ‘if in doubt, keep them out’. 

"We would like to take this opportunity to urge the community to contact Police immediately if they are suspicious of people calling at their house. We would much rather receive calls of suspicious circumstances that turn out to be legitimate than see the residents of the Cotswolds become victims of bogus callers."

Anyone who may have information on this incident is asked to contact Gloucestershire Police on 101, quoting incident number 321 of May 12.

You can also contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

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