Police using DNA evidence in hunt for cowboy builders who ripped off Sunderland old folk

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COWBOY builders preyed on an elderly deaf couple and conned them out of £600.

The vulnerable 85-year-olds, who have asked to remain anonymous, told how they were in their Fulwell home when a man knocked at their door.

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He told the husband, who is profoundly deaf, that urgent work needed carrying out on their house.

After giving a detailed string of problems with the roof and chimney, he got the go-ahead to start work and was joined by a younger man.

The men spent about 20 minutes on the roof before climbing over the garage and inspecting the back of the house where they said felt needed replacing on the ledge of the bay window, which they offered to do.

Ten minutes later and the men said they had finished the work and demanded £600 cash.

The man, whose wife is also profoundly deaf and has dementia, said: “They said they wanted £600 and I thought that was a lot.

“They just said they wanted the money now so I closed the door and went upstairs to get the cash.

“I came downstairs, counted out the notes and gave him £600 and told him I wanted a receipt for insurance purposes.

“He said he would come back the next afternoon but I said I wanted it now. He said he would come back and then they just left.

“They never came back and did a really bad job on the window and what I can see of the roof.”

When relatives of the couple came round and saw the shoddy work, they alerted police.

Officers have now launched an investigation and fear the men may have knocked on other doors in the area offering to carry out work.

“That’s money that we save up to go holiday,” the man said. “It’s horrible. I’ve never slept since then for thinking about it. We’re suffering wondering whether they will come back.”

Their daughter added: “It’s an unbelievably cruel thing to do, prey on very vulnerable old people like this. I was shocked when I heard.”

Detectives managed to find a cigarette end on the driveway of the house, which has been sent away for DNA testing.

The men were driving a white van with ladders in the back when they called round at the house on Tuesday at about noon.

The first man was described as about 35-years-old, 5ft4ins tall, of thin to medium build and had brown hair.

The other was about 25-years-old, 5ft6ins tall, of average build and with dark brown hair.

Anyone with any information is asked to phone police on 03456 043 043 ex 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.