Elderly targeted by conmen

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BURGLARS have tricked their way into the homes of 109 pensioners in the last 10 months - targeting them to look for cash and jewellery.

The number is down on the 134 offences reported over the same period the previous year, and the detection rate has risen to 20 per cent.

South Yorkshire Police said the offences were only a fraction of the total 7,955 homes broken into between January and December last year, but were given top priority by officers.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Stopford, responsible for driving down burglaries in South Yorkshire, said: “These offences are very, very rare - they account for only a small percentage of offences reported to us - but it’s because of the vulnerability of the people attacked that we take it so seriously.”

“We put more resources into this type of burglary than any other serious acquisitive crime.”

He said criminals often pose as utility company officials to trick their way into pensioners’ homes.

“A lot of victims taken in like this feel foolish and can be reluctant to report it, but these are cunning criminals and very believable because they tend to be well practised,” he said.

DCI Stopford urged residents to keep doors locked and to only admit workmen when pre-arranged appointments have been made.

He said identity cards should be checked, and residents should phone utility company head offices to check that callers are genuine.

“Genuine utility company representatives will not mind, and the police would rather receive 10 phone calls about workmen who prove to be genuine than one about a crime having been committed,” he added.

Anyone with information about bogus officials should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.