Elderly Potters Bar residents targeted by scam artists

Herts Police are investigating

Herts Police are investigating - Credit: Debbie White

Several elderly people have been targeted by a fake charity in Potters Bar.

Two females approached residents in Darkes Lane on Thursday asking them to sign a charity petition, which "appeared to be from a legitimate charity" according to police community support officer (PCSO) Cheryll Lavell.

The elderly residents were then asked for their names and addresses, which is often used as a distraction so pairs of thieves can steal your possessions out of handbags or pockets while their accomplice keeps victims busy talking.

"Upon investigation, it was discovered that the organisation wasn't, in fact, a registered charity," PCSO Lavell said.

"While we would never discourage people from donating to charity, we would always advise people to do so directly - via official channels - rather than giving personal details to people they do not know, in the street."

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The police advise the public to take care of money and personal possessions by,and have offered the following advice:

- Use a handbag that can be closed properly - zipped up preferably - so that it is more difficult for someone to open it and reach in.

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- If you use a handbag with a strap, wear it across your body and not just over one shoulder so it is more secure.

- Consider using a purse lanyard which attaches your phone or purse/wallet to your bag or clothes.

- If you do keep your purse in a shopping bag, put your purse at the bottom and not near the top, and use a shopping bag that can be closed if possible.

- Be as secure with your mobile phone or iPod as you would your purse or wallet and ensure it is put away safely if you use it in the street. You can also register your valuables on the free online property database www.immobilise.com. That way, police have more chance of being able to return them to you if they're lost or stolen.

- Men should keep their wallet in a front pocket rather than in their back pocket, making it harder for a thief to slip their hand in unnoticed.

- Report incidents straight away - in an emergency, always dial 999.

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