An Islington grandad who was the victim of a distraction burglary has spoken of his sadness at losing items that were sentimental to him.
Roy Prince, 85, was at home in Islington when he got a knock on the door at around 10:30 yesterday (May 25). When he answered a man who had covered his face with a mask told him that he was working on the flat above and may have cut a pipe causing a leak. As Roy had suffered two leaks over the last few months so he thought this was a genuine worker.
In fact, this was all part of the ruse set out. Roy believes that as he let the man in and led him to the kitchen while the door was left open, the worker's accomplice came into the house and ran upstairs. As the original worker was in the kitchen with Mr Prince fiddling around with the taps and keeping him distracted, the accomplice managed to go through the bedrooms in the house he shares with his wife.
They managed to make off with over £400 in cash as well as sentimental items and jewellery such as a lucky bracelet that Mr Prince had hoped to one day give to his grandkids.
Mr Prince told MyLondon: "I always tell my wife to always be cautious about letting anybody into the house when she's home alone so I feel annoyed at myself for letting this happen. I'm always telling others not to do it but I didn't take it myself. When he said he was here to look at a leak, it felt like it was legit because of the leaks we had in the past. I didn't think anything of it.
"The second he left, I sat down to have a cup of tea and my porridge. I then went back up to my room and saw some of my musical tins that were on my bed that shouldn't have been there and the green tissue paper that I kept the bracelet in - that's when I knew someone had been through my room. The bracelet was special and it can't be replaced."
After discovering that the bracelet, a silver bracelet made for good luck with different stones going around it was missing, that is when he called the police. After his granddaughter Lou was informed, she posted on Facebook about the incident and was messaged by other residents who said the same ruse, a man pretending to be a worker to fix a leak, had happened to them. The Met Police told us that they are looking into whether the incidents are linked.
When police turned up to the house as well as forensics, they weren't able to find any prints or identifying markers which leads Lou and Roy to think the accomplice was wearing gloves. Lou wants to raise awareness for other elderly residents in the area as she believes they are being targeted.
She said: "Of course the money is frustrating but losing the sentimental items is what upsets me the most. What if he [my grandad] wanted to give those to one of his kids one day? To them, those items won't be valuable but for us, they mean so much. I'm a sentimental person and knowing that it belonged to my grandad and they took it, it doesn't feel good.
"They're targeting the elderly because so many people have reached out to me saying the same thing has happened to their elderly neighbours or parents in the area. It now makes me not trust anybody that will come to the door. It's easy for people to say they wouldn't be caught off guard but I think at the moment, you're caught off guard and you'd trust the person and let them in."
A Met Police spokesperson said: "Police were called at approximately 11:05hrs on Thursday, 25 May to reports of a distraction burglary at a residential address in Hawes Street, N1. Two men entered a property pretending they were workmen from the flat above. One man distracted the occupant and when both men left, it was discovered a quantity of cash had been stolen.
"No arrests; enquiries into the circumstances, including to see if this is linked to other offences, are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD2759/25May."
The police issued advice for people to be aware of distraction burglaries:
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