A FRAIL pensioner lost almost £3,000 of his savings when he became the latest victim of bogus officials in the county.

The 81-year-old man, who has a heart condition, was tricked by a conman who called at his warden-controlled house, in Haswell, near Peterlee, shortly after 7pm on Saturday.

The man had been watching television when he went into his kitchen and discovered the stranger.

The intruder said that he must not have heard him knocking because of the noise from the television.

The bogus caller claimed to be from the water board and asked to do some checks in the house.

He turned on the cold water tap in the kitchen and asked the victim to check the water flow while he went upstairs to inspect the supply in the bathroom.

After a few minutes the two men changed places leaving the pensioner in the bathroom while the thief went downstairs. But when the pensioner heard the front door close he realised the man had fled.

Furniture in the living room had been disturbed, £700 was missing from a drawer, and a further £2,000 was taken from the bedroom.

The suspect is about 5ft 7in, aged between 30 and 35, stockily built with dark brown hair cut short. He was wearing a dark jacket and trousers. He was clean-shaven and spoke politely throughout the incident.

The victim has suffered two heart attacks and the first police officer who arrived was so concerned for his health that he immediately called a doctor.

However, other than shock and distress, the victim has sustained no other ill effects.

There has been a recent spate of distraction burglaries across the county leaving a growing number of victims robbed of thousands of pounds.

Detectives yesterday renewed their warning to those living alone not to allow anyone into their homes without proof of identity and if in any doubt to contact the police.

Anyone with any information on Saturday's incident is asked to call Peterlee CID on 0191-586 2621 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.