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[15 NOV 00] CRIMES, FIRES & ACCIDENTS
Gang Cons Its Way Into Pensioners' Homes

Pensioners in Coventry and Rugby were conned out of their pensions and savings by a gang on a confidence trick marathon yesterday.

Police are investigating the links between the five separate incidents yesterday afternoon and evening as the description of the three men involved on each occasion has been very similar.

On each occasion a smartly-dressed man in a suit has tried to bluff his way into the home of a pensioner.

If he succeeded in getting into the house, using a variety of pretexts, his accomplices would try and sneak in and steal cash.

Only one householder refused entry to the gang. Police are renewing their appeals to elderly people to not let anyone in to their house without checking they have valid identification.

They first struck at a house in Stretton-on-Dunsmore at 2pm, where a 90-year-old man opened the door.

The victim was told by the visitor that he was working on a fence next door, and he wanted him to inspect some trees that could be causing the fences some damage.

The resident followed him outside and left his rear door unguarded. It was only when the man had left and the pensionerís neighbour appeared to ask what the group of men had been doing there, that he realised that there had been more than one visitor.

He later discovered that £300 had been taken from a bank book.

Shortly after this, at 4pm, an 80-year-old woman, was visited in Houston Road, Rugby, and was told that there had been a small explosion and the man needed to check her electrics.

She noticed that there were two other men waiting nearby, and told the men to go away.

At 5.15pm near Fenside Avenue, Styvechale, Coventry, a man bluffed his way into the kitchen of a 79-year-old woman to check her electrics, and started tapping the kettle.

The woman noticed that in the reflection of a picture that there was movement in her front room, and went in there to find two men.

One was hiding behind a chair and the other was standing by a chest of drawers, which had been opened.

The pensioner told them that she would call the police and the first man offered to lock them in his van until the officers arrived. The gang escaped and the woman found that £86 had been stolen.

She described the first man as between 5ft 6ins and 5ft 10ins, medium build, clean shaven, with an Irish accent. He was wearing a dark navy suit a, a white shirt and a dark tie. He was in his 30s.

The second man was slim, about 6ft, in his early 40s and was wearing a dark sleeved jumper.

The third man is white, 5ft 10ins, slim, and was wearing a jumper darker across the back than at the front.

Other descriptions given by other victims were similar to this.

The gang are next believed to have struck at the home of an 89-year-old woman near Walsgrave Road at about 6pm. The man claimed he needed to check her electrics, and fiddled with several appliances before asking her about her pension details.

Police said she inadvertently led him to the airing cupboard where she kept her papers and her cash, and later discovered that £400 savings were taken.

At 7pm an elderly couple in Melbourne Road, Earlsdon were told that an electricity pylon had fallen down and the man at their front door asked if he could check their TV.

As he kept them talking, two others searched upstairs and took £160 in cash. The group then left in the direction of Hearsall Common.

Witnesses to any of these incidents should call Coventry police on 024 7653 9040 or Rugby police on 01926 415000.
 
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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / 15 Nov 00
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