Handbags stolen from elderly women during distraction burglaries

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Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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Police have issued a fresh warning about distraction burglaries after handbags were stolen from two elderly women.

An 89-year-old woman answered the door of her home in Worthing Avenue, Gosport, at about 2pm on Sunday to a man she did not know.

Worthing Avenue, Gosport

Worthing Avenue, Gosport

He claimed he was carrying out work on a neighbour’s house and asked for access to her garden.

The woman walked the man through her home to the garden and he left shortly afterwards.

Later she discovered her handbag had been taken.

The man was described as white, in his 40s, of stocky build, with short ginger-coloured hair and clean shaven.

Clifton Road, Lee-on-the-Solent

Clifton Road, Lee-on-the-Solent

He was wearing a dark jacket, and the victim said he may have left in a white van.

Police are investigating whether the incident was linked to a second burglary in Lee-on-the-Solent yesterday.

An 83-year-old woman answered the door of her Clifton Road home to an unknown man, who claimed his cat had been injured and may have run into her garden.

The woman led the man to her garden, but he did not call out for the animal and left shortly afterwards.

Later she realised that her handbag, containing £220 cash and bank cards, had been stolen.

The man was described as white and about 5ft 5ins tall.

He was wearing a beige coloured puffy coat, camouflage design baggy trousers, a cream coloured baseball cap, and dark coloured trainers.

Advice for residents

Police have issued the following advice to residents:

- Never open your door to someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting. Most callers are genuine, but it’s important to be on your guard. Always make sure a caller is who they say they are before letting them into your home.

- Distraction burglars may try to trick their way into your home by posing as officials or playing for sympathy by asking for help, such as to use your toilet or phone. These people often work in pairs or groups. The caller will try to distract you so their partner can sneak into your home to steal.

- Genuine callers will be happy to show you their identification or call back when someone else is at home with you. So always ask if you’re unsure.

- If you are a pensioner, have a disability or impairment, you may be able to set up a password with your energy provider to help protect you further.

Anyone with information about either burglary is asked to call PC Nick Jackson at Fratton Police Station on 101 quoting 44170452130.

Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.