Three elderly people have been targeted in East Sussex by people claiming to be from a water company.
Sussex Police are warning people to be alert to a man knocking on doors in Wealden claiming to be from the “water board”. He has been very pushy and on a couple of occasions forced himself inside people’s homes. The male appears to be targeting elderly people and is described as being white, about 50, clean shaven with a northern accent.
If you have elderly friends or relatives, please encourage them to check identification of anyone who calls at their door and verify with the company they’re purporting to be from. Any genuine caller will be happy to wait outside while the checks are made.
On 7th September in Eastbourne an 87-year-old woman answered the door to a man. He said he needed to check her water and, without asking, came into her home. She felt suspicious and went to get help but he ran past her from the house with two handbags. They were found nearby with cash missing from them.
Two-days later, a 78-year-old answered the door to a man who said the waste pipe was blocked. He pushed his way into the flat. He went from room to room and left with a handbag which contained money and a birth certificate.
And on Wednesday last week, an 87-year-old answered the door to her home in Summerheath Road, Hailsham to a man claiming to be from the waterboard. She asked for ID but claimed it was soaking wet and in another jacket. He claimed there was a blockage at her address which he needed to check. She let him in and he asked her to turn on the tap in the bathroom. She did and as she returned he was leaving with her handbag. She tried to stop him but he pushed her to the floor and she hit her head.
Detective constable Karen Colbran said:
Anyone who knocks on the door should be able to show you identification. If they can’t, don’t let them in. If you don’t know the person outside answer with a chain on the door or speak to them through a letter box. Anyone genuine will wait outside while you make checks.
For more helpful information about checking people are genuine employees, see South East Water’s website: www.southeastwater.co.uk. Staff from all utility companies carry ID. Do not ring the number on their card to check they are legit – but look on a household bill or search online for the appropriate number to phone.