THE North-East's main water company has warned against criminals posing as staff after a man who tried to access a pensioner's home was this week was jailed.

Northumbrian Water, which serves much of the region, said it was now highlighting the lengths that criminals go to in order to enter vulnerable peoples' homes.

Earlier this week, a man appearing at Teesside Crown Court was jailed for five years after he put on a stolen piece of the firm's branded clothing and twice tried to enter a pensioner's home in Middlesbrough.

The Northern Echo:

Prompting the company to issue warning, Andrew Kindness, customer service manager at Northumbrian Water, said: "This case in Middlesbrough highlights the threat bogus callers pose to people across the North East and we would advise customers to be very careful about who they let into their home.

"In this case, it was fortunate that the customer's carer was on hand and noticed something was not right, but we know that's not always the case.

"Setting up a password with us, which is something that can be done online or over the phone, is one way of checking a caller is who they say they are."

Mr Kindness warned against criminals' use of the phrase 'the water board,' which is no longer used by Northumbrian Water's employees.

The Northern Echo: An employee of Northumbrian WaterAn employee of Northumbrian Water

He added: "The other measure people can take is to keep the person outside, get them to pass their identity card through the letter box, or through the gap in the door if the chain is on, and call us on the number on the back to make sure they are genuine.

"Our people don't mind, because they know that customers' security and peace of mind is a priority. If in doubt, keep them out until you know they are who they say they are."

Those who feel targeted are urged to contact their local police force on the non-emergency 101 number.