Cash stolen from man in his 80s in 'brazen' distraction burglary

A man in his 80s had money stolen from his home in a 'brazen' distraction burglary in Derry yesterday.

Detectives from Strand Road in Derry believe the money was stolen by a gang of men and boys who carried out unsolicited gardening work at the pensioner's home off the Culmore Road on two separate occassions.

The distraction burglary occurred on Tuesday but the men originally called at the man's house at the weekend.

Three men and two teenage boys are reported to have been at the victim's house in the Petrie Way area on two separate occasions. The first time, at around 11.30am on Saturday, September 3, three men who arrived in a van were paid for gardening work the victim was persuaded into having done.

The incident occurred at Petrie Way.

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They said they'd have to come back on another day this week to do some further specialist work.

All three men spoke with what were described as English accents. One man is believed to be approximately 40 years old, of average build and around 5’8’’ tall with dark hair. The second man is described as being aged between 50 to 60 years old, fair haired, roughly 5’6’’ tall and of average build. The third man is believed to be around 18 years old and 5’6’’ tall.

The man aged in his forties, returned to the house yesterday, Tuesday, 6th September at around 10:15am in a van that was towing a green-coloured machine used to cut wood. This time he was accompanied by two teenage boys, possibly aged around 16 years old. When the man in his forties was given money for further work, he then left suddenly with the two boys. It was only then the victim realised money had been taken by one of the boys from another room.

Detective Sergeant Galbraith said: "This was a brazen act in which the victim was targeted in a despicable way. He believed these men were genuine and paid for work he thought was needed. We're appealing to anyone who was in the area between these times on Saturday and yesterday and who saw the van or men and boys to contact us. We also want to hear from anyone who was contacted by the same people."

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The number to call with information is 101, quoting reference number 612 of 06/09/22. Alternatively, information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/

Detective Sergeant Galbraith added: "We don't want anyone else to have to go through such a horrible experience where they're swindled out of their hard earned money. We're urging everyone to report any suspicious activity of strangers offering unsolicited services or trying to gain access to homes.

"The sooner you contact us, even if it is on the behalf of others, the better our chances are of catching a potential criminal.

"Remember, it's your home and, if you have any concerns, it's okay not to open the door. You can speak to the person through the door or window, without actually opening the door to them. Not all cold callers are rogue traders, but some are and if you feel that something isn't quite right, it usually isn't.

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"Report any activity that raises your suspicions to police immediately. This is a good way to alert us so we can investigate, and will help deter criminals and reduce crime in your area. Call us on the non-emergency number 101."