A headsup, folks – seeing a significant number of reports relating to distraction theft and bogus callers operating in the area – elderly folk have been prey to a man in a white van who’s pressing victims to pay for non-existent fencing and gardening jobs.
Kevin Pitt from West Midlands Police yesterday sent out the following appeal and warning:
Message sent byKevin Pitt
(Police, Engagement and Consultation Officer, Walsall)
Sadly we have to report that another elderly Walsall resident has fallen victim to a bogus caller – this time a man who told the 89 year old that roots from her conifer trees were blocking the drains and that he had been sent to solve the problem. He has followed his victim into the house and by guile got her to hand over several hundred pounds for work that was not carried out or required. This offence occurred in Greenside Way, Delves, between 10.30am and 11.30am yesterday (Tuesday 21 February).
This offence is very similar to several others that have been reported across Walsall since the start of the year, i.e. in Pheasey on 23 January (bogus drain contractor), Aldridge on 25 January (fencing repairs), Darlaston on 26 January (again conifer roots blocking drains) and Beechdale on 6 February (tree roots again). It’s highly likely that several other thefts have gone unreported.
Given the similarity of the offences it’s possible that the same offender is involved. In this latest incident he has been described as a white man, around 5′ 6″ tall, of large muscular build with a round clean shaven face and wearing dark coloured clothing and baseball cap. He spoke with a local accent and had most likely already singled out his target as he pulled onto her drive in a clean, white small van, possibly a Ford with the letters K and R in the registration number. Notably this man seems to be working alone.
You can help protect your elderly and vulnerable neighbours by warning them to be suspicious of unexpected callers and remaining vigilant yourself. If you see anyone answering the description given above please contact the police immediately. Even if it turns out to be a genuine caller we’d rather have a few false calls that miss a chance to catch the offender in the act.
Can we remind you what you’re looking out for:
• A white man, aged roughly 40 to 50 years old, medium height, large or muscular build, local accent, often wearing dark clothing.
• He targets the elderly and vulnerable posing as a contractor and seems to be working alone.
• He drives a small white van, possibly a Ford.
• He steals cash that is handed over by his victim and in once case probably followed them to the Post Office when they went to draw out more.
We’re sure many of you have cameras on your mobile phones: if you see anything suspicious and can do so without putting yourself at risk, think about taking some photos of those involved or their vehicle.
If you have any information that may help contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101.
Please tell your relatives and neighbours about these ratbags, and impress upon them how important it is not to buy from, or accept services at the door, no matter how plausible the people offering them. Genuine companies will always contact you by other means.
Explain that no official body will turn up unannounced demanding money for services like fencing repairs, drain cleaning, tree pruning etc., and that if they are at all unsure of any caller, to close the door and contact the police.
Scumbags engaged in the robbing of OAPs are lower than a snake’s knees, and I hope the police continue to crack down on this cowardly, nasty crime.
Please, if you have any further information relating to this, or any other incident, or if you witnessed something please contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111