Burglars ransack 92-year-old woman's house after pretending neighbour had died of coronavirus

Victim 'distraught' after men offered to clean her house and then stole money and belongings

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 03 April 2020 13:33 BST
Journey through London's empty streets during coronavirus lockdown

A 92-year-old woman’s home has been ransacked by burglars who claimed one of her neighbours had died of coronavirus.

The men knocked on the door of the victim’s home in Oldham on Thursday evening, and “offered to clean her house for her”, police said.

While she was fetching them products to use, they stole belongings including her purse, money and jewellery.

The “appalling” crime came after police warnings over a range of scams targeting elderly and vulnerable people.

They include people posing as coronavirus testers to gain entry to homes, online fraudsters and people offering to do shopping and then keeping people’s money.

Greater Manchester Police said the victim of the Oldham burglary was not injured but had been left “distraught”.

“Two offenders knocked on the victim’s door and falsely explained that the woman’s neighbour had died of coronavirus,” a spokesperson added.

“In light of this, they offered to clean her house for her and presented themselves as a friendly, helping hand.

“However, whilst the woman was fetching the men some cleaning products, the two offenders stole a number of items from the victim’s house. These belongings included a purse, money and jewellery.”

The suspects were wearing all black. One had an olive complexion and the other was wearing a bobble hat.

Chief Inspector Trevor Harrison said: “This is an absolutely appalling crime, which has taken advantage of a vulnerable and elderly woman at a time where we, as a society, should be looking out for her. This is the lowest of the low.

“I would make a direct appeal to anyone who was in the local area around the time of the incident to please get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity. Sometimes, even the smallest detail can progress our investigation and help us bring those responsible to justice.”

At a press briefing last Friday, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said coronavirus was changing crime in Britain.

“Some opportunists are exploiting the pandemic,” Martin Hewitt added.

“We are monitoring demand changing and the changes in type of crimes we’re seeing."

Police forces have drawn up contingency plans for having up to a fifth of officers and staff at any one time, which will see them priotise how they respond to calls.

At least one officer and one member of police staff have so far died in Britain.

Anyone with information on the Oldham burglary is asked to contact police on 0161 856 8922, quoting incident number 2104.

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