‘Despicable’ thieves target vulnerable pensioner in distraction burglary

Police are looking to speak to these two men in connection with a distraction burglary.
Police are looking to speak to these two men in connection with a distraction burglary.

Police are hunting for two men who pretended to be workmen to get into a pensioner’s home before stealing £1,000.

Thieves targeted a property belonging to an elderly man in the Bewbush area of Crawley on October 3.

Officers said the 91-year-old victim had been saving the money to buy a mobility scooter and his confidence had been ‘severely knocked’ due to the incident.

The force has released e-fits of two people they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.

Police said between 2pm and 3pm two men knocked on the door of the pensioner’s home. He answered and was told the men needed to check the water pressure in the property.

Officers said the pensioner presumed the men were from Crawley Borough Council after recently being notified that refurbishment works were due to commence.

Once inside, one of the men asked if he could pull out the washing machine to check the water pressure, and requested the victim emptied the cupboard beneath the sink.

While doing so, the second man disappeared upstairs and searched a bedroom, stealing £1,000 from a bedside draw.

Both men then made excuses and left the property before the washing machine had been returned.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “The first suspect is described as white, in his 40s, about 5’10”, with dark brown hair which was unkempt and slightly curly. He had two broken or missing teeth from the upper left side of his mouth. He was wearing a dark blue boiler suit.

“The second suspect is described as a man of Asian or Indian appearance, aged about 18, about 5’10” and of slim build. He wore a dark coat with small silver buttons.”

Detective Constable Gillian Sadler said: “This is a truly despicable crime in which two men have clearly targeted a vulnerable pensioner who put his trust in them, believing they were legitimate workmen.

“Whilst distracted, one of the suspects made an untidy search of his bedroom and stole £1,000 which the pensioner had been saving for a mobility scooter. This not only impacts the victim’s ability to get around, it has also severely knocked his confidence.

“It is beyond me how anyone can do this to an elderly person. These suspects may well have parents or grandparents of a similar age, and I’m sure they would be mortified if they discovered they had been targeted in such a way.

“We’d like to hear from anyone who has any information or who recognises the suspects to report it online or call 101 quoting Operation Inroad.

“I’d also like to encourage residents to be vigilant and to report anything they believe may be suspicious to us.”

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