Appeal launched after 81-year-old Camden woman victim of ‘distraction’ burglary

Sgt Alex Bloxham believes response figures can be kept up in 2016. PA images.

Sgt Alex Bloxham believes response figures can be kept up in 2016. PA images. - Credit: PA Images

Detectives are appealing for information after an 81-year-old woman opened the door to a man claiming there was water damage in her Mornington Crescent flat.

The victim, an 81-year-old woman, opened her door to a man who said he was carrying out work in a flat next door and water may have leaked into her home in the afternoon on February 17.

The man entered and claimed there was water damage in several rooms of the property.

Keeping the victim distracted in one of the rooms, another man entered and searched the flat.

Both men had already left the flat while the victim was on the phone to a third male about the alleged water damage who told her she would not have to pay for any repairs.

The victim did not realise anything was wrong until the suspects left the property.

She found that a cheque book and a number of designer handbags had been stolen.

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The main suspect who distracted the victim is described as a white male, in his 50s, 5ft 10ins and of a stocky build with a round face and short light brown hair.

He was clean-shaven and was wearing a black coat and identified himself as “Mr Barrister.”

The second suspect who phoned the victim who called the victim about repairs called himself “Mr Bailey.”

Camden detective constable Dan Guntrip CID said: “This has been a frightening ordeal for the victim and I would like to hear from anyone that may have information or saw these suspects in the area.

“These people often target the most vulnerable in our community and its important to check that those claiming to be tradesmen are genuine, bogus callers succeed because they sound believable.”

Anyone with any information should contact DC Guntrip, Camden CID on 0208 733 6587 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Police advice for people to assess if a tradesman is genuine:

- Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them.

- Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry an identification card with their photograph on. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone the company the caller claims to represent.

- The utilities services now offer a password identification system. Any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity.

- Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere which may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice awaiting this distraction.

- If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don’t let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return or ask the caller to contact this person.

- Treat every stranger with caution and advise any elderly relative to be very cautious when opening the door. If you are still worried, dial 999 immediately and ask for the police.