TALL tales of explosions and claims of working for a care service are among the latest tricks being tried by bogus callers.
The warnings come after a spate of doorstep crimes across the North East.
Investigators believe the criminals responsible are travelling around the region targeting the elderly by posing as workers from utility companies and care agencies.
Incidents of rogue traders offering gardening services at exorbitant rates, have also been reported.
Pc Ingrid Wolfe, regional co-ordinator for Operation Strongbow, an awareness campaign to cut down on such attacks, said: “Doorstep criminals can seem very plausible.
“The elderly, in particular, tend to be more trusting of people and these bogus officials and other conmen take advantage of that and target them.
“That doorstep criminals are posing as members of caring professions in order to steal from vulnerable elderly members of our communities shows how callous these people are.”
Police say householders should ask callers to produce identification to prove they are who they claim to be.
People are also advised to lock any other entrances to the home before answering the door to increase security.
In Fulwell, Sunderland, early last month, cowboy builders targeted an elderly deaf couple and tricked them out of £600 for work to their home.
Pc Wolfe, of Durham Police, added: “It is disappointing to hear that a small minority of people are targeting our most vulnerable residents, particularly when it is involving the caring profession.
“People can protect themselves by following a few safety measures.
“I would urge residents to always use a door chain or spy hole when answering the door and ask callers to show identification through the letterbox.”