Bogus crooks warning in East Sussex

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Police are issuing a warning to vulnerable residents after homes in Haywards Heath, Brighton, Peacehaven and Hailsham were targeted by men posing as water board and gas board officials on Monday 23 May.

Detective Inspector Rob Morland from Wealden CID said: “Taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable is deplorable. I am keen to speak to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in these areas or who may have had a similar visitor claiming to be from a utility company.

“I would like to remind residents to take your time when a visitor calls by. Use the door chain and thoroughly read and verify their identification. They do not need to be let in while you ring and check who they are. Remember, a genuine caller will always be happy to wait.”

At around 3pm an 89-year-old woman from America Lane, Haywards Heath, answered the door at to a man claiming a pipe had burst nearby and he needed to come in and check her water supply. The woman later discovered her rooms had been searched and cash stolen.

At around 4.45pm an 87-year-old woman in Stanstead Close, Brighton, answered the door to a man claiming to be from the gas company and told her that there had been a gas explosion and he needed to run her tap in case of contamination. Nothing is believed to have been taken.

At around 5.45pm a 61-year-old woman in Arundel Road, Peacehaven, received a visit from two bogus callers also claiming the water supply may have been contaminated due to a gas explosion, and later an elderly couple in Bayham Road, Hailsham, received a call from two men at around 7pm using the same story.

The suspect from the Brighton burglary is described as white, in his 30s, 5’6, slim, short black hair possibly gelled, wearing a long sleeved smart white shirt with the cuffs done up, a black or brown waistcoat over the top buttoned up, black or brown smart trousers and smart shoes.

The suspect from the Haywards Heath burglary is described as white, 20s to 30’s, slim build, fair skin, clean shaven, short hair, wearing smart dark clothing, dark shirt with vertical stripes and a tie, slight cockney accent.

The first suspect from the Hailsham burglary is described as white, 5’8, slim build, sharp facial features, black short spiky hair over to one side, clean shaven, London accent, long sleeve black shirt with cuffs, a navy blue and coloured striped tie, black trousers and brown shoes. The second suspect is described as white, 5’6, chubby build, short brown hair shaved into his head, clean shaven, London accent, chubby oval face, wearing a dark blue tracksuit.

The first suspect from the Peacehaven burglary is described as white, age 30-40, slim build, 5’8, dark hair, wearing dark, navy coloured clothing. The second suspect is described as white, 40s, slightly sturdier build and taller, dark hair wearing maroon coloured T-shirt.

Police are conducting house-to-house enquiries and forensic examinations.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 quoting serial 1207 of 23/4 or anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.