Crooks: 'Can I have my ball back please?'

CRIMINALS in Essex have come up with a novel method of tricking their way into vulnerable people's homes - claiming they have lost a ball in their garden.

James Hore

CRIMINALS in Essex have come up with a novel method of tricking their way into vulnerable people's homes - claiming they have lost a ball in a garden.

There have been a series of similar incidents across the county in recent days and detectives are linking the “despicable crimes”.

On each of the five occasions during the weekend the callers claimed to have lost a ball in the garden of their victims who were all left in a great deal of distress.

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Three thefts were reported within about an hour of each other on Saturday afternoon in Old Heath Road, Colchester, Colchester Road, West Mersea and Vine Road, Tiptree.

And the same thieves are also believed to have struck again at Silver End on Saturday afternoon and may have then attempted to enter a home at Witham on Sunday morning.

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Three cameras and cash were taken from the home of an elderly woman at Valentine Way, Silver End.

She received a knock at the door from a man who claimed he had lost a ball in her back garden but when she went to look, the intruder sneaked in and ransacked a bedroom.

Then shortly after 8am yesterday police were called to Gershwin Boulevard in Witham after a resident disturbed two men in his back garden.

Again they said they had been searching for a lost ball.

The men jumped back over the fence and left in what is thought to be a mid-sized silver Toyota people carrier.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jennings, from Colchester CID, said: “These are despicable crimes that have caused a great deal of distress to the victims and we hope members of the public will call us immediately with any information about these thieves.

“I would urge everyone to be vigilant and be on guard against anyone claiming to have lost anything in the garden. Phone us immediately on 999 if these people call at your home or if you see anything suspicious.”

One of the men was aged about 30, 5ft 6ins, olive-skinned and had short dark hair.

He spoke with a foreign accent and was wearing dark clothing.

The second man was aged between 18 and 20, about 5ft 9ins, slim build and had a drawn gaunt face with a prominent bridge to his nose.

He was wearing a black woollen beanie-style hat, a dark coloured long-sleeve top, blue jeans and oldish white trainers.

And it is thought he mumbled or stuttered his words.

Anyone with information should call Colchester CID on 0300 3334444.

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