Teen burglars raid pensioner's home

PUBLISHED: 15:45 06 July 2007 | UPDATED: 21:45 29 May 2010

POLICE in Dunmow are warning people to be on their guard after an elderly man had money and belongings stolen in a distraction burglary last week. Richard Castle, 71, who has lived in his High Stile home since he was a few months old, said he answered his

POLICE in Dunmow are warning people to be on their guard after an elderly man had money and belongings stolen in a distraction burglary last week.

Richard Castle, 71, who has lived in his High Stile home since he was a few months old, said he answered his front door to a youth at 6.30pm on Thursday.

"The lad said he'd accidentally kicked his football into my back garden and asked if he could get it back.

"We are always told to keep an eye on doors with such callers and I thought I had. I closed the front door and went around the back with the lad.

"I thought he was a bit strange, especially in the questions he was asking. He took a great interest in the stinging nettles in my back garden, asking if I grew them for a reason and if I bought them in specially.

"Also, he refused to use

the rake to try and find his ball, saying his mum had always told him never to touch people's property."

It wasn't until Mr Castle went back indoors that he noticed something was wrong.

"First of all I noticed the door. It was closed, but I noticed there were splinters on the frame.

"They'd taken £25 to £30 pounds from my wallet which was in the pocket of my jacket hanging on a chair. It was odd because they had zipped the wallet back up and put it back in the pocket.

"They had also opened up a few boxes and left the lids off. They'd also opened up drawers and gone through those."

With the exception of a window that had been broken from the inside, Mr Castle said the thieves had not appeared to have caused any malicious damage.

"I wasn't particularly upset about it. I'm more annoyed with myself for being fooled by these people."

The youth is described as being in his late teens, white, slim, approximately 5ft 7in tall with short brown hair.

DC Mick Bennett from Dunmow Police Station said: "This is a classic distraction burglary which is, I'm afraid, all too prevalent across the country.

"The type of distraction may change but it is always used to get the homeowner either out of the house or into another room while an accomplice carries out the burglary.

"People should always make sure their property is secure, especially if they are outside, even if just doing the gardening.

"These types of people are often opportunists."

Anyone needing advice on home security should call crime reduction officer, Peter Caulfield, on 01376 551312, ext 65820.

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