POLICE are urging elderly people in South Gloucestershire to be vigilant after three incidents of men gaining access to pensioners' homes after claiming to be from Age Concern.

All three incidents happened between 4pm and 6pm on Thursday, July 14 in Kingswood and Fishponds.

The first was reported by a 75-year-old woman in Fishponds, who said two men had called at about 4.15pm, saying they were from 'Age Concern and the NHS'.

Police said they went into the house without being invited. One man kept her talking while the second man went upstairs, but she became suspicious and it is not believed anything was taken.

At about 5.15pm there was another incident, this time in Kingswood, in which a man walked into the home of a 92-year-old woman, again claiming to be from Age Concern. The woman was on the phone to her son at the time and the man left without anything being taken.

The third incident happened at about 5.30pm in Kingswood, when an 80-year-old woman opened the door to a man who again said he was from ‘Age Concern or the council'. This man persuaded the woman and her husband to go upstairs, while a second man is believed to have entered the house and taken cash from the woman’s handbag. The men made off when the couple’s son arrived.

Neighbourhood Inspector Clive Summerill said: “This seems to be a relatively new way for doorstep criminals to try to talk their way into people’s homes in order to steal.

"Thankfully this sort of crime doesn’t happen often and can be prevented.

"Please talk to your vulnerable elderly relatives and friends and make sure they know how to keep these conmen out.

"We are carrying out house-to-house enquiries in the affected areas and our Bobby Van is visiting to review the families’ home security.”

The first man seen in Fishponds is described as: white, aged 40-50, about 5ft 10ins tall, plump with fair hair and wearing a blue t-shirt and light trousers. The second man is white, aged 20-30, of similar height, slim build with a moustache and an Irish accent. He wore a checked shirt and jeans. The man seen in the second Kingswood incident was said to be a white male, slim, aged about 30, with short dark hair and wearing a shirt, jeans and trainers.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is horrible to think that anybody could target vulnerable older people in this way. Posing as someone from a charity is particularly despicable.

“Criminals who target vulnerable older people are calculating thieves and can be very convincing. We would urge all older people not to open their door to someone unless they are absolutely sure of their identity. If someone is specifically concerned about the credentials of someone who claims to be from Age UK or one of our founding charities – Age Concern and Help the Aged – then we would also urge them to contact our free advice line for further advice on 0800 169 65 65. Our free guide Staying Safe can also be downloaded from www.ageuk.org.uk.

“All local Age UK staff visiting older people in their homes are advised to take some form of identification, such as an ID card, or visit by appointment only. All collectors for Age UK shops are required to carry Age UK ID cards and present them if requested.”

If you have any information which could help police with their investigation into these incidents, call 101, quoting reference 5216155127 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.