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Bogus official burglaries
Friday 1st February, 2008

Police are warning elderly residents in Billinge to be vigilant after men posing as officials from the water board struck twice in the area.

At about 2pm on Tuesday 29 January 2008, a man knocked on the door of a 90-year-old woman who lives on Bell Lane and claimed he was from the water board and needed to turn the water off.

The man was not carrying any identification so the homeowner refused to let him in.

About half-an-hour later, two men approached the home of a 73-year-old woman on Coppice Drive. The first man again claimed he was from the water board and needed to inspect the taps. Although the homeowner did ask for identification, he said it was in his car and just walked into the house. While the woman was talking to the man, the second offender entered the house and went into her bedroom, stealing a smash amount of cash.

When the woman caught the thief red-handed, both offenders ran out of the house and escaped in a silver car.

Police are linking the two incidents as in both cases, the man who claimed to be from the water board was white, about 20-years-old with fair hair and was wearing a blue and white striped jumper. The second man is described as white, in his late 30s, unshaven and wearing a navy jumper.

Police Constable Geoff Crompton, based at Wigan Police Station, said: "We are linking these two incidents because the modus operandi, the timing and the description of the offender seems to fit.

"Whoever these culprits are, they have no respect for elderly and vulnerable people and will stoop to anything just to get their hands on some cash. When they tried unsuccessfully to steal from one woman, they simply went down the road and targeted someone else. It is cowardly, despicable behaviour and for the distress they have caused they need to be punished appropriately.

"Members of the public are reminded that access should not be allowed to people unless they have confirmed who they are with their identity card and if they are in any doubt refuse them access and contact police.

"It is not just the potential victims we need to appeal to but to the whole community. It's important that you look out for each other, be good neighbours, and listen to the safety messages we give out. You are our eyes and ears, and we need your help."

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact police on 0161 856 7181 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Some important safety tips:
  • When a stranger knocks on your door, keep it latched at all times. If you do not have a latch ask them to push their id card through the letterbox.
  • Do not let anyone into your house without verifying their id. Check the name of the company in the phone book, and call the company before letting them in to make sure they are genuine.
  • If you have any concerns at all do not let the person in.
  • Ask them to call back when a family member, friend or neighbour is there. Genuine callers would never wish to cause distress, and would be happy to call again.
  • Finally, look out for your neighbours, and report any suspicious activity to police.

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