/ Bogus 'water board' official tricks pensioner

A thief pretending to be from the 'water board' tricked his way into a pensioner's home so he and his accomplice could steal from her.

The 79-year-old woman caught them in the act but the pair still managed to steal her handbag and other personal items.

It happened during a burglary at the woman's home on Starkey Street in Heywood, Rochdale, at about 11.50am on 30 January 2013.

She had just returned home from doing her shopping when a man knocked on the door claiming to be doing work on next door's property and needed to turn her water off. The woman agreed to let him in and the offender went into the kitchen and began to poke around under the sink, all the while keeping the woman distracted.

As he did so, another offender snuck into the house and went upstairs. However, the woman caught him coming down the stairs and screamed, before threatening to call the police.

Panicking, the two offenders snatched the woman's handbag off the sofa in the living room and fled towards Bamford Road. Within the handbag was a small amount of cash along with the victim's bus pass and other personal items.

The first offender is described as white, of a medium build and in his late 50s. He was wearing a dark jacket and spoke with an Irish accent. The second man was younger and may have been the offender's son. He was white, about 6ft tall, of a slim build and had short mousy hair. He was wearing a pale grey fleece.

Police are now appealing to anyone who has information to come forward and are also asking residents in the community to remain vigilant.

Police Constable Dave Harrison, from the Volume Crime Team at Rochdale Police Station, said: "It is always so saddening that there are people out there who will trick an elderly woman just to get their hands on a pretty measly amount of money.

"Genuine employees of gas, electric or water companies will always carry legitimate identification and will be happy for homeowners to check these credentials with their employer. If someone cold calls at your house, then please do not give them access to your home until you are 100 percent confident they are who they say they are.

"I would therefore ask members of our community to be alert and be on the lookout for this sort of scam. If anyone does think they know who might be responsible, or feels they have been targeted by these offenders, then please call police immediately."

Anyone with information should call police in Rochdale on 0161 856 1491 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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