A 97-YEAR-OLD woman from Thornbury was tricked by distraction burglars who stole cash from her jewellery box and purse.

The pensioner was at her home in Blakes Road last Saturday evening at around 6pm when a man in his early 20s turned up at her door.

He claimed to be working for a water supplier and told her one of her neighbours had a plumbing problem. He explained he needed to check her pipes to fix the issue and she let him in.

She never let him out of her sight. But while she kept watch, another man entered her home unnoticed, climbed the stairs and stole cash from her jewellery box. He then went through her purse and helped himself to more money.

Officers investigating the burglary have appealed for witnesses or anyone with information about the intruder who posed as a water company worker to come forward. They described him as a white 5ft 5ins man of medium build and with light brown short hair. He is believed to be between 20 and 22 years old.

He was wearing blue jeans and a blue anorak and had a cord around his neck with a badge at the time of the incident.

According to police, this was the latest in a number of similar burglaries in the area. Officers are warning townspeople, especially the elderly, to be wary of unexpected callers.

They have released a list of guidelines for residents to follow. These include calling a neighbour or friend to come along to check out an unknown visitor.

But the golden rule is never to open the door if you are unsure who is on the other side.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "Check the identity of the caller by calling the company they are claiming to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or on a bill. Don't use any telephone numbers provided by the caller – they may be bogus.

"Many service providers provide password schemes and it can be helpful to sign up to these. When unannounced callers knock at your door they should know the password if they are genuine."

He added: "If somebody asks for your help, needs to make a telephone call, claims to have lost a ball in your garden, for example – don't invite them into your house. Remember it's your doorstep, your decision."

Having a safety chain fitted and keeping doors and windows secured at all time is also advised.

Anyone with information regarding the burglary should call 101.