Be vigilant about distraction burglaries
I’m saddened to have to report that a Shard End resident has been a victim of the spate of distraction burglaries that have taken place in East Birmingham over the last couple of weeks.
I’ve received an email from the police about these incidents, which I am posting in full below. It includes some good advice about how to protect yourself from these unscrupulous criminals, together with some important details about the recent burglaries. If you have any information that can help the police with their enquiries, please contact officers by phoning the new, non-emergency number 101.
Appeal for help: Woman claiming to be police officer targets homes in East Birmingham
Police are warning people in East Birmingham to be vigilant following a spate of distraction burglaries, which are believed to be linked, throughout the beginning of April.
Detectives believe elderly people in particular are being targeted by a lone female offender who claims to be a plain clothed police officer.
She has been gaining entry to homes by speaking to the occupants about home security and asking them where they keep their money. Once inside the offender has distracted victims and stolen cash.
The incidents took place in Shard End on 1 April, Hodge Hill on 3 April and Kings Heath on 9 April.
The offender is described as a white woman around 5ft 5ins tall and of slim build. Aged approximately in her 30s, the woman has long curly/frizzy dark brown or black hair, which may be tied back. She wears a green three quarter length khaki style coat and dark trousers and speaks with a soft Birmingham accent.
Detective Sergeant Nick Barnes, from Force CID, said:
“We have a very good description of the offender and I would ask anyone who has any information about who she may be to get in touch with us. Although no violence has been used against the victims, these are serious crimes where vulnerable members of the community have been exploited by a callous thief. In some incidents, the victims have even been tricked into disclosing their bank PIN number, which the offender has then used to withdraw cash in the minutes after the burglary.”
“Our advice is never to let anyone into your home unless you are sure who they are. If you have any doubts about who someone is, don’t let them in and contact the police.”
If someone calls at your door:
Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
Always put the chain on before you open the door. (If you don’t have a chain it’s a good idea to get one – they don’t cost much). But remember FIRE SAFETY – only put on your door chain as you answer the door – don’t keep it on all the time as this could delay your exit in case of fire.
Look at their clothing. Some official callers will have a uniform bearing their organisation’s name or symbol.
If you don’t know the caller, ask to see their identity card. Check it carefully, and keep the chain on while you do this. Genuine callers won’t mind if you close the door while you do this. Some public utility services (e.g. water, electricity, gas) operate a password system. Contact your local branch to find out more.
If you’re still not sure, ask the caller to come back later. You can then check their story by phoning the organisation or company they claim to represent. Look up the number in your own telephone directory. Don’t rely on the telephone number on their card – it may be the number of a crook’s partner. Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property.
The best practice is not to let them in. Ensure your back door is locked if you are answering the door to someone you don’t know.
Watch out for anyone who says they’re in a hurry. Don’t let them pressure you. If in doubt, call a neighbour or friend.
If you have any suspicions at all, don’t let them in.
If you’re still not happy, phone the police – dial 999 – and tell them what’s happened. And tell your neighbours.