BOGUS callers who targeted an elderly resident and stole a handbag and jewellery have left the pensioner devastated.

The woman was burgled on Monday afternoon when a man claiming to be from the ‘water board’ called at her home in The Gables, off Gunnergate Lane, Middlesbrough, claiming he needed to measure pipes prior to an upgrade.

The occupier took the man to the rear of his house and while there it is believed a second person went into the house and stole a handbag and jewellery. Both suspects then left the property.

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As a result, Cleveland Police are reminding people to check the identity of people calling at their home.

Detective Sergeant Jim Devine, of Middlesbrough Police’s Burglary Team, said: “If anyone has any suspicions at all about a caller or canvasser who comes to their home, please contact police.

“Residents should only allow entry to their home if they are completely satisfied that the caller is genuine.”

Officers have contacted Northumbrian Water who confirmed they are not working in the area.

The bogus caller is described as white, around 50-years-old, 5ft 8ins tall, of chubby build and wearing glasses, a cap and a fluorescent jacket.

Leanne Clough from Northumbrian Water said: “More than half of all bogus officials pose as water company employees and so we work closely with local police forces and Operation Strongbow to raise awareness of distraction burglary. It is unusual for water company employees to need entry into your home without an appointment and our advice is: if in doubt, keep them out.

Customers can call Northumbrian Water on 0845-717-1100 who will confirm if the caller is genuine.

Anyone with information about the incident in Middlesbrough is asked to contact Cleveland Police on the non emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.