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Distraction burglars strike in phone change scam

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Detectives are investigating a spate of distraction burglaries after elderly residents have been asked for change for a pound coin to make a phone call.

The latest crime happened in Lockington Croft, Halesowen around midday on Saturday 7 June when an elderly woman answered her door to a younger woman who asked for change to call a taxi.

The woman followed the pensioner into her house and tried to snatch money from her purse, however on this occasion she left with nothing.

Other incidents have happened in Lower Gornal, Kingswinford, Bartley Green, Oldbury, West Bromwich and even further afield in Walsall, Wolverhampton and east Birmingham. On most occasions the MO is the same - the offender targets an elderly person, who has often just come from a bank or post office, and asks them for change to make a phone call.

Detective Inspector Ben West, from Force CID, said: "This type of offence is extremely worrying as they are targeting the more vulnerable members of our communities. The victim will naturally try to help when asked for change and often allows the offender access to their home, and while they are distracted will find that their cash or valuables have been taken.

"In several of the incidents the offender is described as Asian or Eastern European, 5’ − 5’ 2" tall, in her 40s and of stocky build with long dark hair. A number of victims have also reported that the offender had gold teeth."

Police arrested a 31-year-old Washwood Heath woman on Friday 13 June on suspicion of burglary. She has been released on police bail while enquiries continue.

Meanwhile police are scouring CCTV from the areas that the offences took place looking for clues and extensive house to house enquiries are being carried out.

DI West added: "We are urging residents to be wary of callers at the door or anyone approaching them in the street. Purses and wallets should be kept out of sight in a closed bag or inside pocket when out and about.

"We would also ask people to keep a close eye on their elderly neighbours during the warmer weather when doors and windows are often left open."

Anyone with information which will assist the investigation is urged to contact Force CID on 101 or alternatively information can be given to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.