Detectives have released CCTV footage of a man they wish to speak to after an 89-year-old woman’s OBE medal was stolen during a distraction burglary at her home in Croydon.
At around 10:00hrs on Thursday, 21 March, the victim was in her ground-floor flat in the Park Hill area of Croydon.
The suspect, who posed as a builder, knocked on the door and stated the flat above was flooding and asked to check her flat for a leak.
The victim subsequently let him in and took him into the kitchen.
He asked the victim to clear out her cupboard and while she did this, the suspect suddenly claimed he had to leave.
A short while later, the victim realised that her purse, containing £120, had been taken from her handbag which had been left in the living room.
The victim’s OBE medal which she received in 1987 for her services to healthcare, as well as an OBE pin badge and her Evans Medal for Merit in Pharmacy, were also stolen from a drawer in her bedside table.
Five days later, her purse - without the money - was posted back through the letterbox.
The suspect is described as being a white man aged in his 50s, approximately 5ft 7ins tall with grey hair and a grey beard. At the time of the offence, he was wearing a light-coloured sports jacket, a red shirt, blue jeans, with light-coloured shoes, a black flat-cap and dark-coloured sunglasses.
The 89-year-old victim said: “I was very upset by the incident because it’s a friendly neighbourhood and I was trying to be helpful. It was not only the loss of the money, but the medal that meant a lot to me, the OBE having been awarded to me personally by the Queen.
“I would like to warn people to make certain they know the identity of anyone who comes to the door before letting them in.”
Detective Constable Claire Samy, of the Met's South Area CID, said: "The suspect took advantage of this vulnerable woman in her own home - somewhere that should be a place of safety.
"Not only was cash stolen, but so was the victim's OBE medal which has huge sentimental value. The victim, who is now a retired pharmacist, received the medal over 30 years ago for her service to the NHS, having spent her career working in numerous hospitals in and around the capital.
"If you can offer any information which could assist the investigation, please get in touch as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting CR3808902/19.
Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The following crime prevention advice may be of use to residents:
• Always be cautious about any unknown man, woman, or child who comes to your door, without arranging it with you first.
• Always check who is at the door. Use your door viewer, or look through your front window to see who is there. Don’t open it if you feel anxious.
• Genuine emergency service personnel or trades’ people should carry photo ID.
• Keep the door closed while you thoroughly check their ID, call their office if you feel unsure. Any genuine caller will not mind waiting.
• Be wary of anyone who claims they are in a hurry and needs to get into your home quickly.
• Never keep large amounts of cash in your home.
• Never let anyone take you to the bank to withdraw money.
• If you feel at all unsure, schedule a time for the caller to come back again when a friend or relative can be with you.
Further burglary crime prevention advice can be found online at: https://www.met.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/