Bogus Brighton Meter Reader Stole Thousands From Elderly Victim

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Police are investigating an incident in Whiterock Place, Brighton, in which a vulnerable elderly woman allowed a man claiming to be a gas meter reader into her flat, only to later find that he had stolen thousands of pounds cash which she kept in her bedroom.

It happened at around 12.15pm on Wednesday 10 January when the 86-year-old homeowner let the suspect in, believing him to be genuine.

But he repaid her trust by ransacking her bedroom and opening drawers in other rooms to steal her purse and savings.

The suspect is described as a white man, 5’6″, aged 30-40. He was wearing a yellow-and-red high visibility jacket.

Detective Constable Sebastian Day, of the West Sussex investigations team, said: “Given the age and infirmity of the victim, this was a particularly callous theft.

“I’m keen to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious, who may have other information concerning this theft or who may themselves have been similarly approached.”

Anyone able to help is asked to contact police online or by phoning 101, quoting serial 451 of 10/01.

Alternatively, please visit the Crimestoppers website or contact the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Some burglars prey on people’s trust and kindness and use distraction as a means of getting into your home.

Distraction Burglars & How To Stop Them

A distraction burglar / bogus caller’s intention is to trick people into allowing them into the property, or create a diversion so an accomplice can sneak in.

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Because elderly or vulnerable people are often targeted, distraction burglary can have a devastating effect – victims can lose their confidence and peace of mind, as well as money and possessions.

Distraction burglars make up a story to get into your home, with only one intention – to steal! They often pose as a tradesmen or officials or ask for your help with something:

Playing for sympathy – “I’ve broken down, please can I use your phone?” “I don’t feel very well, could I use your toilet or get a glass of water?”

  • Lost ball – “I’ve lost my ball/my son’s lost his ball, please could I look for it in your garden?”
  • Good Samaritan – “I’ve just caught someone climbing out of your window, I think they might have stolen something. We need to check your money hasn’t been taken.”
  • Using children – “Hello could my son and I come in to ask you some questions for his school project?”
  • Fake emergency – “There’s a gas leak/flood in your road, I have to come in to turn off your supply.”
  • Leaving a note – “I’ve popped round to see my auntie/friend who lives next door, but she’s out at the moment. Please could I borrow a pen and paper to leave a note?”

Some work alone, but often they work in groups of two or more, usually one person will knock at your door with a convincing excuse that seems genuine or urgent. The talker will persuade you to let them into your house and keep you occupied whilst others sneak in and search your house to steal cash and valuables.

Distraction burglars can be men, women or children and sometimes a combination, smartly or casually dressed.

Advice on how to protect your home and property, and to learn from the stories of other distraction burglary victims, can be found online here.

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