Ipswich: Elderly woman, 90, speaks out after getting tricked by conman

IPSWICH: An elderly woman who fell prey to a devious conman has spoken of her shock at finding he had rifled through her belongings and stolen money from her purse.

Ninety-year-old Rose Ratcliffe was cleaning in her London Road bungalow when, at around 11am on Friday, her doorbell rang.

A man claiming to be working on the water supply nearby said he needed to flush the pipes out, and asked to come inside and turn off her water.

He led her into the kitchen where he encouraged her to sit down, before emptying out the cupboard under her sink and turning both kitchen taps on.

Under the pretence of checking the bathroom taps, he then left Mrs Ratcliffe – who turns 91 next week – and, unknown to her, began to search through the house for valuable items to steal.

After about ten minutes, she realised he had fled, but found several items were out of place and her living room cabinet doors were open.

She said: “When I got to my bedroom, he had been through every drawer, and the wardrobes were all higgledy-piggledy.

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“I checked my purse as well and when I opened it, I found there was �150 gone. I don’t usually have as much but it was money for my granddaughter to do my big shop for the month and for some of my grandchildren’s birthdays.

“I was totally shocked. I got myself into my reclining chair and dialled 999.”

The call-taker spoke to Mrs Ratcliffe while she waited for police to arrive, who have since launched an investigation into the distraction burglary and are warning other residents – particularly the elderly and vulnerable – to be vigilant.

She added: “The police have been kindness itself. I have never seen people be so good in my life.

“I could have asked for his ID but he looked so honest. He wasn’t a hoodie-type, he was just a normal young man and he looked quite genuine.

“I’m getting over it now, but it’s still a shock.”

Helen Taylor, information manager from Age UK Suffolk, said: “This recent distressing incident highlights again how important it is for older people to be constantly on the alert and that it is perfectly acceptable to turn away anyone who calls at the door if they are not expected, or if there are any doubts at all about who they are.”

Anyone who saw the conman – described as white, in his early 20s, 5ft 2in to 5ft 4in, with a medium build and short dark hair, and wearing a dark or black jacket and light blue jeans – is asked to call DC Robert Simmons on 101.

n Have you ever been the victim of a distraction burglar? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters @eveningstar.co.uk