Police have warned householders to be on their guard after an elderly woman was twice targeted by crooks pretending to be plumbers.
The first incident happened at 5.15pm on Tuesday, May 10, at a house in Hall Gardens, Boldon. A man knocked on the rear door, claiming to be a plumber and said a neighbour had sent him to check pipes in the house.
When the woman let him in, he asked her to go upstairs and run a tap. Wheh she came back downstairs, she found him gone and her black leather handbag, which had been in her front room, had been stolen.
The offender is described as a white European man, possibly early 40s , 5 feet 8" tall, medium build with dark hair slightly long on top and clean shaven. He was wearing bib style blue overalls which were clean and looked new and was carrying a clipboard.
The second incident happened later that evening between 8.30pm and 9pm at the same address.
The woman had earlier left her front door open and had just come into the living room to close it when she disturbed a man in her home. He again claimed to be there to check her pipes, but ran off towards Aviemore Road. She then checked the bedrooms and found they had been disturbed and a quantity of cash stolen.
This man is described as also white European, 5 feet 8" tall, medium build but with short spiky blonde hair. He was wearing a white/fluorescent yellow striped top.
Detective Inspector Paul Stewart said: "We want to remind residents that callers who turn up unannounced, whether they're claiming to be carrying out work or selling something, should always be treated with caution.
"Genuine callers will not mind being asked to come back at a different time so their identification can be checked or while arrangements are made for a relative or friend to be present when they return.
"We always advise people not to let strangers into their home. If they are in any doubt close the door and contact police."
Police are carrying out enquiries in the area and additional officers are on patrol to reassure the community.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting log number 393 11/05/16 or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more crime prevention advice visit http://www.northumbria.police.uk/advice_and_information/crime_prevention/bogus_callers/
To report an incident ring 101 - in an emergency and if a crime is taking place ring 999.