Can you put a name to one of these faces? This rogues’ gallery of e-fit images of crooks who prey on the elderly has been released by police this week.
In a bid to track down the doorstep conmen who have struck at 13 homes across the county, including Hemel Hempstead, officers have issued the mugshots of the men they are hunting and appealed to the public: Help us take these people off the streets.
Det Sgt Mark Clawson from Operation Manhunt – the team dedicated to catching distraction burglars – said: “The victims’ ages have ranged from 77 to 93, and we know they target older people because they tend to keep larger amounts of cash at home, and will not be so suspicious of unannounced callers.
“These criminals are extremely convincing so if you open the door they will talk their way in.
“If you have older relatives or neighbours I would urge you to take some time to tell them not to open the door to anyone they aren’t expecting.”
The incidents – believed to be linked – have all happened since November in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Hatfield, Harpenden, Hitchin, Royston, Smallford and Cuffley.
It is also believed that other burglaries could have been carried out across the border in Beds, as well as Berks and as far afield as Lincolnshire.
Officers investigating believe that two or possibly three men, who are travelling around the county, are responsible for the spate of crime.
In most cases one of the men cons his way into the victim’s home by telling them that he is working on a neighbouring property and that a pipe has burst and he needs to check the water supply.
The trickster then distracts the victim while his accomplice burgles the home, often making off with cash.
The thieves are described as two white men with Irish accents, between the ages of 30 and 50. One man is said to have a very slim build while the other is larger.
In the most recent attacks cash was snatched from a house in St Albans on Monday, February 4 and money was taken from a woman aged in her 80s at her home in Hemel Hempstead on January 28. A Hemel Hempstead home was also hit on December 8.
Det Sgt Clawson said: “If you can help us identify these men, please call police via the non-emergency number on 101. If you believe you see these men acting suspiciously, call police immediately via 999.”
Police advise householders not to answer the door if they are unsure about an unexpected caller, to ask for identification before letting anyone into your home and never keep large amounts of cash at home.