“It’s something I’ll never forget and will affect my whole outlook on life. I’m a lot more cautious about answering the door, and when it’s dark I won’t answer it at all.”

“For several nights after the incident I couldn’t sleep. I was worried that the male would return to the house and try to get in. I was so anxious that the doorbell would ring – in fact I was so afraid that when it did ring I didn’t answer it.”

The impact of distraction burglary – when an offender tricks their way into someone’s house, often posing as a workman or tradesman, before stealing from them – should not be underestimated.

The above quotes were from two women in their 80s who were targeted in separate incidents, and were left feeling frightened in their own homes.

Sgt Tom Ellerby, from Wiltshire South East CPT, said: “We are regularly investigating these types of offences, which not only have a financial impact on victims, but also a huge emotional and mental impact.

“I would urge everyone who has vulnerable or elderly friends, relatives or neighbours to take the time to have regular conversations with them about the importance of home security.

“It only takes five minutes, but if you talk to them about it on a weekly basis, then hopefully they will know how to keep themselves safe and not let unknown or unexpected visitors into their home.”

Here are some top tips:

  • You are never required to open their door to unexpected callers and it is not rude to send someone away.
  • Display a ‘No Cold Calling Home’ sticker to discourage unwanted callers.
  • Ask to see the caller’s ID, even if they have made an appointment to see you, and call their company yourself (not on a number they provide) to check they are genuine.
  • The ‘Waterboard’ no longer exists, it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus callers.
  • Use a spy hole and chain to check who the caller is before you answer.

We have also attached a leaflet/poster, which you can print off and give to any friends, family members or neighbours you think would benefit from this advice.