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Distraction burglary - victim stories

“My window cleaner cleans my windows every month and has done so for many years, but last week a man rang the bell claiming to have cleaned my windows that morning and I had never seen him before in my life.

The man told me he had been earlier that morning and cleaned the windows and was now back to collect the money. I asked where my usual window cleaner was and he said he was doing other jobs in another part of town today and that he was covering some of thisround for him.

I didn’t question him and proceeded to go and get £38 to pay for the cleaning, asking the man to stay at the door, but he followed me inside and asked if he could use the toilet. I said no, so he asked for some squash, which I agreed to and then he left.

After he left I thought the whole situation was a little strange and I went to my neighbour who had also been called on by the same man claiming to have cleaned her windows, although she had not believed him. I was then worried that the man could have taken something whilst he was in my home, but on checking my belongings this was not the case.

My neighbour has been very good and as my eyesight is not great she was able to give a good description to the police of the culprit as he had called on a few doors claiming to have cleaned windows. My neighbour is good and does look out for me a bit more if my family cannot get to visit me as often as they would like. I have shared my story with friends to warn them of these distraction burglary methods, as I would not wish someone else to experience this.”

“I like to think I am vigilant but this incident took me completely off my guard.

It was a Sunday afternoon when my doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but as I approached the front door, the person who rang the bell looked familiar; I thought it must be someone I knew.

I opened the door and as I did so, a woman barged straight past me in a state claiming a young man had just stolen her bag as she walked across the street and she needed to call the police. Whilst she found her way into my lounge to call the police she asked me to get her some water, but as l was getting her a glass of water she then came through to the kitchen and said the police were going to meet her outside my home. I went to let her out and then returned to take the glass of water out to her but when I looked outside again she had gone.

The incident happened so quickly it took me a few minutes to process it and I then began to think it did not seem quite right. I went into my lounge where my handbag was only to discover than the wallet where I kept my cash and credit cards was missing.

I live alone and this incident has left me feeling shocked and fearful and I will apply additional precaution when considering opening the door to unexpected visitors. It is a shame to have to be distrusting of people who call at your home. It is important though to know to ask the right questions of strangers who call at your address.”

“I left my front door unlocked as l was expecting my daughter to visit me that afternoon, but I woke up from a nap to find an unfamiliar face standing over me in my bedroom. It was a woman who claimed she was from social services and was there about cleaning. When I queried the fact that I already had a cleaner she said my usual cleaner had been taken ill and she was the replacement, in that moment I believed her story and I arranged for her to come back another day to clean.

The woman then asked for some water so I directed her to the kitchen, when she returned with water it was in the wrong glass, so I got up and went to the kitchen to put the water in the right glass. I only tumed my back on the woman for a few seconds at this point and immediately after drinking the glass of water the woman left.

When I returned to my bedroom, I noticed that one of the drawers on my bedside table had been disturbed and the little wooden box with my jewellery in was missing. I also noticed that my purse was no longer on my bedside table.

I live on my own and never thought something like this would happen to me. I have lost some pieces of jewellery with sentimental value and feel very shaken by the whole experience. I have since given my daughter her own key to my address so I don ’t have to leave the door insecure from now on.”

“I occupy a ground floor room at university and often sleep with my window open.

One night recently, in the early hours I was woken to a faint sound and slowly began to make out the image of the top half of a man leaning into my room through the window using his mobile phone screen to highlight items on my desk.

It all happened so quickly, and by the time I switched on my light, the man was out of the window with my laptop in his hand.

I also heard noises upstairs which I thought was unusual as there didn’t happen to be any rooms occupied in the flat above me. I looked out of the window to see two men climbing from a balcony to the ground below. They were walking away from me so I could not see their faces. On further inspection a couple of my housemates also had electrical items stolen.

My laptop contained all my university work as well as all my photos from my gap year travelling the world and those of family and friends. The impact of losing my laptop has been massive; all my hard work and research on my university projects has just gone in an instant and I had no back up. I reported this to the police who were very helpful and since reporting the incident, two men have been charged with this offence, but so far my laptop has not been recovered.

I am certainly more vigilant with my property now; especially my new laptop. I keep all my university work backed up regulady now on the cloud and store my laptop more securely in a locked drawer when not in use or I am away from my halls. l have also encouraged my fellow housemates to be more security conscious too. if I leave my window open it is now on the locked vent setting.”

“I had gone to bed and my husband was still watching TV in the lounge, I fell asleep and when I woke a little while later to noises, I assumed this was my husband getting ready to come up to bed. The next thing I knew was that as the bedroom door opened, the figure standing in my bedroom was not my husband. The moment I called my husband’s name the man ran out of the bedroom, through the kitchen and exited out the back door.

When I got up, I realised my bag had been taken along with my car keys, driving licence, bank cards and PIN as well as my door keys and keys to my parents home and personal items. Our iPad had also been taken, which police were able to track which thankfully led them to find the burglar near by.

Both myself and my husband are more security conscious now, obviously we changed all the looks after the incident and make sure that the front and back doors are locked when we are in the house as it is more than likely that the thief came in through the back door. We have also increased the security on our back gate and wall too by using anti climbing products and outdoor locks. I am though still worried and nervous about being on my own at night now and could not have anticipated the effect this incident would have on me.”

“I never realised that being burgled would have such an impact on my life. The police think that the burglar got in through the back door and that I may have left it unlocked as there was no sign of forced entry. I had not been disturbed through the night and the only reason I realised I had been burgled was when I opened the curtains in the morning and saw my car was not on my drive.

I went downstairs and realised that my handbag was not where I usually leave it on the hall table either. My car is my lifeline, as my mobility is not as good as it used to be and being able to drive ensures I can carry on being independent. By taking my handbag, the thieves also took my purse which contained some lovely photos of my family including ones of my grandchildren, as well as taking my credit and debit cards and my reading glasses.

The police were very good and supportive, but the amount of time involved in liaising with my insurance company, calling the bank to cancel and reissue all my cards and replacing those personal items I kept in my bag as well changing the locks was so impactive.

I will certainly be more vigilant with my home security now, as being burgled is one of those things you like to think will never happen to you.”

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