Campaigner warns against 'soul destroying' crime of distraction burglary after Barnet incidents

Times Series: Mr Jarvis has helped police educate housebound residents about the crime in Whetstone Mr Jarvis has helped police educate housebound residents about the crime in Whetstone

Rogue policemen who distract people at their doorstep and rob their homes are “destroying the souls of their victims”, a campaigner has warned.

Richard Jarvis gave the stern message after two separate people contacted the Hendon and Finchley Times to tell their story.

Mr Jarvis, who has helped police educate housebound residents about the crime in Whetstone, is now fighting to make sure nobody else falls prey to it.

Stephen and Carol Sewell, of Elm Park Road, Finchley, returned home from church one Sunday in November when they were approached by a policeman.

He showed them a badge and asked if he could come in to speak to them about a supposed spate of burglaries on their street.

When he left ten minutes later, the couple realised he was not only a bogus detective but that he had an accomplice who had managed to ransack their bedroom while they were distracted.

They took Mrs Sewell’s mothers wedding ring and other valuable items which have an “extreme” sentimental value.

Mr Sewell, 64, said: “My wife has been a nervous wreck ever since, it was an absolutely terrifying experience. When we walked into our bedroom and saw what happened, our hearts sank.

“I can’t believe we were duped, but we had no reason not to trust him. I feel angry that someone can come in dress up, take your trust away.

“They took some very cherished items. I wish I had checked before letting the policeman in to my house.”

They dialed 999 after realising what had happened where real officers confirmed the man was a rogue policeman.

Last month, Maria Wood, of St Johnstone House, Woodside Park, branded thieves “cruel” when they knocked on her window at midnight pretending to be plain clothed policemen.

The pair grabbed her bank card and expensive and sentimental items of jewelry she had bought from China when she was a young woman.

Distraction burglars use several excuses to try to get into people's homes, such as claiming to be from the water company investigating a leak or an electrician there to read a meter.

Grandather Mr Jarvis, who lives in Borehamwood, said residents should ring the number on their utility bills before granting access to people claiming to be workmen.

He said:“They go for elderly and vulnerable people as they’re easy targets. These morons get up to all sorts of disguises. It’s a soul destroying crime. It's sad, but you can't trust anybody.

“Don’t open the door to anyone you don’t know. If they say they are a police officer, ask them to put their warrant card through the letter box.

“If in doubt, dial 999. Police would sooner turn up to a hoax than have to console a victim.”

No arrests have been made in either case and anyone with information is asked to call police.

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