28/04/07 Conmen Calling


Water board officials are urging vulnerable pensioners to be extra vigilant following a spate of distraction burglaries at homes across Lincolnshire.

Seven homes have been targeted in less than a week by callous conmen – and now the company has told the public they are welcome to ring its hotline if they are worried.

As previously reported in the Echo, cash was taken during distraction burglaries at Fiskerton and North Greetwell two Wednesdays ago.

In the same afternoon, an elderly woman in Middle Rasen asked a bogus caller for identification and refused to let him in. A man got into a house in Reepham but police said it was unclear whether anything was taken.

Last Tuesday, homes in Skillington, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, and Woolsthorpe, all near Grantham, were targeted.

Police are not ruling out possible links between the burglaries in the south of the county and the earlier ones north of Lincoln. All of the victims were elderly.

Anglian Water spokesman Colette Nicholls said that genuine callers from the company were happy to have their identification checked.

“We operate a scheme called fitting image where photographs of our employees can be checked on a computer if customers call us,” she said.

“They can describe the person on their doorstep and we can also give you a coded number which our employee should be able to confirm with you what it is.

“People simply need to ask for the identity card or password, lock the door, and then call us for verification.

“The water regulator states that we have to do 10 spot- checks a day from people’s water taps but considering that we serve £4m customers across the region the chances of having someone at your door are very rare.

“If there was a problem with the water supply in your area the customer would probably already be aware due to low water pressure or discolouration. If there’s a problem, say with a burst pipe, then they probably would see engineers in the area or heard about on the radio. If you are in any doubt at all about who is at the door they should call us.”

Lincolnshire Police spokesman Dick Holmes said that distraction burglars tend to travel great distances and specifically target people they think are vulnerable.

He said; “We are gathering intelligence about these gangs through Operation Liberal to try to link offences. These criminals operate across borders and we not only want to catch them, but also make it as difficult for them to operate as possible.”

To check the veracity of a caller phone the hotline on 0800 145 145