Police and Trading Standards in Coventry are urging people to help protect elderly relatives and neighbours against fraudsters after thieves posing as roofers conned a frail pensioner out of £2,000.
It’s understood a group of five bogus builders targeted the home of an 89-year-old man in Grafton Street, in the Stoke area of the city, on Saturday (March 17) and tricked him into believing he needed emergency roof repairs.
The callous group – all white males, three in their teens or early 20s with two considerably older – daubed masonry paint across tiles and then demanded £2,000 for the work.
The victim, who had recently been admitted to hospital and is on medication, withdrew the cash from a city centre bank before handing it over to the conmen who also stole items from the house.
Police are carrying out CCTV enquiries in the area and are urging anyone with information – or who saw the men or their van in Grafton Street or the surrounding area over the weekend – to get in touch.
Coventry Police partnerships officer, Pete Sturgeon, said:
“This is a truly sickening offence; these men have deliberately targeted a vulnerable man in his own home, tricked him and bullied him into handing over his savings.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone would stoop so low to commit offences of this nature. I’m sure some people will suspect who may be involved, men who have recently come into a large sum of money, and I would urge them to contact us in confidence.
“These offenders do not deserve any protection: we need to catch them before they trick any other elderly residents out of their hard eared money.
“We would encourage people to take time to visit elderly relatives or neighbours and make them aware of the tactics used by these callous offenders and urge them not to leave large sums of cash in the house.”
One of the men, described as being scruffy and a “slob”, is understood to have talked his way into the house having claimed he needed to access the loft – but whilst inside stole items including two ceremonial swords.
Coventry Police is working with the city’s Trading Standards to raise awareness of doorstep con artists.
Mike Lynn from Coventry Trading Standards urged residents not to use cold callers for any kind of property maintenance work.
He added: “Unexpected cold calling is a favoured approach used by rogue traders whose sole intention is to extract as much money from residents as possible.
“A common tactic is to claim that urgent repair work is needed to a roof, wall or guttering to prevent further damage; they try to scare and pressure the homeowner into employing them.
“Our concern if doorstep callers are used is that after agreeing to work for a nominal cost, the resident is then informed that there is a lot more work needed and the costs escalate – or as in this case they may disappear with the person’s money.
“If work needs to be done on your property, known and recommended traders should be used.”
Anyone with information about the offence, or believes they know who might be responsible, is urged to call West Midlands Police on the 101 number quoting Crime Reference 20CV/62382C/18.
Alternatively, information can be passed to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.