POLICE are urging Sheffield residents to check the identity cards of all officials calling at their homes unannounced, claiming some are even pretending to bobbies.
One man, aged 30, has been charged in connection with six incidents – four in Sheffield and two in Chesterfield – with the latest incident reported on Clifton Crescent, Handsworth, where an 86-year-old woman was said to have been targeted.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Singleton, responsible for overseeing the police response to burglaries across South Yorkshire, said: “This is particularly rare in South Yorkshire.
“However, police are asking residents to be vigilant and always ask for ID from unexpected callers, whether they be police officers, police community support officers or utility suppliers.
“All South Yorkshire Police staff carry photo ID bearing the official police logo. We would urge members of the public to request ID, staff will not be put out by this and would welcome such requests.
“If residents are suspicious or concerned regarding any callers I would urge them to utilise the 101 telephone number to establish identity before allowing anyone access to their home.
“South Yorkshire Police and all of the main utility suppliers are united in eradicating bogus callers. Most utility suppliers have a hotline to check whether callers should be in the area and their staff carry ID. Residents are reminded ‘if you are not sure don’t open the door’.”
South Yorkshire Police have highlighted the latest incident as part of their Summer Safety campaign aimed at reinforcing safety messages over the summer months.
The force is also involved with Operation Liberal – a national initiative set up to tackle distraction burglaries where victims are conned into allowing strangers into their homes and ‘distracted’ while valuables are stolen.
Forces across the country share details of incidents and suspects.
A force spokesman said: “Distraction burglary is a type of burglary where the method of entry is by trick rather than the typical forced or sneak entry.
“A bogus caller incident is typically an incident where the caller gave false or misleading details to gain entry to premises or obtain work and, either by their manner, actions or persistence, stole or otherwise deceived or confused the occupant into parting with cash or property.”