Distraction burglars posing as gardeners target the elderly

Herts police car
Herts police car

Older people are being targeted by ‘gardeners’ who arrived out of the blue, offer their services and then steal money before leaving, the police have warned.

It happened in Highfield, Hemel Hempstead, twice last week – first in Quantocks on Monday at 2pm, and then in nearby Solway on Thursday between 11am and 1.30pm.

First, an elderly woman’s house was targeted by a white man who offered to clear her rear garden. He was invited in and a price was suggested, but refused and he left. She later realised her purse was missing.

Police say the man was of average height, medium build and driving a dark van.

Two offenders knocked at the victim’s door on the Thursday, offering to complete gardening work. This was accepted and done in the front and rear gardens, but to a poor quality.

The victim paid for the work and after the men had left she discovered that money had been stolen.

The first of the pair is described as a white man, aged about 50. The second is described as a white man, aged between 25 and 30 and around 5ft 11ins tall. Both men were using a flatbed van.

Det Con Kieran Doyle from Operation Manhunt said: “We are linking both crimes due to the excuse used to get into the property.

“I’d urge anyone living in or working in these areas and believes they witnessed these men to get in touch with police.

“I’d also like to hear from anyone who was approached by them and offered gardening work.

“These men are targeting older people and it is essential that we remind our older friends and relatives not to accept offers of work at the door.

“If you believe work needs to be done, do your own research and find a recommended, reputable trader.

“I’d also remind people that if someone calls at your door, who you are not expecting, do not open the door to them.”

The Operation Manhunt team has worked to reduce incidents of distraction burglary in

Hertfordshire and incidents are rare.

However, people are asked to take note of the following advice to reduce the risk of becoming a victim:

Not sure? Don’t open the door! - If you are not expecting anyone and you don’t recognise them, don’t let them into your home. Try to communicate with the caller without opening the door and ask them to return at a time when you have someone you trust with you.

If you are expecting a caller - If a person you are expecting comes at the time you have arranged, ask to see their identification before you let them in.

Never keep large amounts of cash at home. Put your money in an account where it is safe.

Call 999 if you suspect a crime is in progress or you believe someone is acting suspiciously around your neighbour’s property.