Conmen claiming to be from the 'water board' have stolen a substantial amount of cash from an elderly woman during in a spree of distraction burglaries across the county.
Police have issued a warning that bogus water board workers targeted and conned elderly people in a series of incidents across Derbyshire in just one day.
Six crimes took place on Friday, February 9, involving victims aged between 73 and 95, and police are now investigating whether or not they are linked.
Detectives said in each case the crooks pretended to be from the 'water board' and asked to check the victim's water supply.
In one of the cases a man claiming he was from the water board went to the house of a 73-year-old woman in Springfield Road, Etwall, at about 1pm. Police said he simply turned the taps on and off before leaving. Meanwhile, a second thief sneaked in and stole "a substantial amount" of cash from a bedside table.
There were five other incidents during the day, but the burglars fled empty-handed in all these cases.
The first crime of the day happened at around noon that day, when two men visited the house of an 89-year-old woman in Mackworth, Derbyshire. One man went upstairs while the other kept the victim distracted but nothing was stolen.
Later in the day an 84-year-old Codnor man was visited by three men sometime between 3.40pm and 4.40pm, although nothing was stolen.
At 5pm, two men went to the home of an elderly couple in Ilkeston. The 79-year-old woman became suspicious and challenged them and they ran off empty-handed.
Half an hour later, a man visited the home of a 95-year-old woman in Ilkeston but she was immediately suspicious and refused to let him in.
At around the same time, an 86-year-old Ockbrook man was approached by man asking to check the water supply but the homeowner did not let him in.
PC Daniel Goodman, who is from Operation Vigilance, a specialist Derbyshire police team which investigates burglaries and robberies, said: "We’re asking people to be on their guard and report anyone suspicious to us. Genuine utility company workers will all have identification cards and will be happy to wait outside while you call their employers to make sure they are who they claim to be.
"If you have elderly relatives, talk to them about home security and consider fitting a door chain for them to keep unwanted callers out. If you or someone you know have been targeted by distraction burglars recently, please report it to us. We are investigating whether these crimes and linked and I would ask anyone with information to call me."
Witnesses or anyone with information should call PC Goodman on 101. You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.