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Couple speak out about burglary distress

PUBLISHED: 17:30 30 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:47 06 July 2010

Amy Gray

An elderly Lowestoft couple who were robbed by two boys and a man who pretended to have lost a ball in their garden have told of the distress caused by distraction burglaries.

An elderly Lowestoft couple who were robbed by two boys and a man who pretended to have lost a ball in their garden have told of the distress caused by distraction burglaries.

Herbie and Effie Twiddy, both 83, have bravely spoken about the crime in a bid to warn others as part of a week-long campaign by Suffolk police to crackdown on rogue traders and distraction burglars.

New figures released this week have shown that there have been 24 reported distraction burglaries between January and June this year, and there were 70 in Suffolk in 2009.

Now the couple hope that their experience will encourage others to be more aware.

Mr Twiddy was in the front garden and his wife Effie was inside their Lowestoft home when a man in his 50's, with a Nottingham accent, arrived at the house with two boys aged about nine and 12.

One boy told Mr Twiddy that he had lost his ball somewhere in the front garden while another child knocked on the window to get Mrs Twiddy's attention and told her the same story, but said the ball was in the back garden.

The couple, who described themselves as usually “very sharp”, helped to look for the balls and while they were outside, the man went into their house and stole a wallet with £200 inside.

Mr Twiddy said: “How low can you sink to use two boys to steal? If someone wants to be a crook and do it on their own and get caught, it's what they deserve.

“But to go back to Dickens and bring children into it is just terrible. From that point of view, you could say that he was Fagin. Thinking about it afterwards, they were pretty good actors.”

Mrs Twiddy said: “I was shook up and I didn't sleep that night. I was unnerved.”

Launching the police campaign with Suffolk Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, Suffolk police insp Chris Gilmore said: “The majority of people who call on homes are genuine, but we would like people to be aware of this kind of crime.

“Distraction burglars and rogue traders use a victim's kindness or good nature to enter their home or to extract money for poor services.”

Tips to avoid becoming a victim:

t Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.

t Before you answer the door, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Check that you have locked any other doors and taken the key out. Look through the spy-hole or window to see who it is.

t If you do open the door, put the chain on first and keep it in place while you talk to the person on the doorstep.

t Check the person's details and identity before you let them into your home. If you are at all suspicious, don't let them in.


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