Vulnerable pensioners in Sunderland targeted by 'opportunistic criminals' in doorstep cash scam

Northumbria Police officers on patrol in Downhill area of the city earlier today.
Northumbria Police officers on patrol in Downhill area of the city earlier today.

Wearsiders are being urged to be on their guard after a conman called at homes and tried to trick people out of cash with a sob story.

Officers in the city are asking members of the public to remain vigilant following reports of opportunistic criminals looking to prey on vulnerable pensioners for cash.

Sergeant Louise McClennan of Northumbria Police.

Sergeant Louise McClennan of Northumbria Police.

Over the last few weeks, Northumbria Police has received a number of similar reports in the Hylton Castle and Downhill areas of the city involving individuals knocking at the doors of elderly residents.

On each occasion, a man has asked for a small amount of money – usually £20 at a time – after telling a story designed to earn sympathy.

Two incidents reported to police occurred on Monday evening and involved a man asking residents on Caledonian Road and Clovelly Square for money.

An individual claimed on both occasions that he required money to pay for a taxi to allow him to visit a relative in hospital.

Neither of those visited parted with any money.

Both incidents were reported to police, and officers – who have been aware of similar attempts to trick elderly people into giving out money over the last few weeks - have launched an investigation.

Sergeant Louise McClennan said: “I would like to make residents in the Hylton Castle and Downhill areas of Sunderland aware of these recent incidents and ask people to remain vigilant.

“Please do not give money to strangers who appear at your door, and keep any unattended properties locked.

“We have put on extra patrols in the area to reassure members of the community, and would ask anybody who sees anything suspicious to come forward and contact police or speak to a nearby officer."

Anyone with any concerns, or who has witnessed something similar, is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 1138 030918 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.