Homeowners are warned of threat by burglar gang

POLICE have warned an organised gang of thieves is raiding properties across the Arun district.

Sergeant Ian Cheesman spoke of a rise in burglary rates across the area during his report to councillors at the latest meeting of the joint downland area committee on Monday evening.

Sgt Cheesman told members there had been an ‘unfortunate spike’ in theft-related crime that the force was working hard to counter.

Speaking at the meeting at Arundel’s The White Swan, he said: “I would like to say it’s a slow time of year for us but it generally isn’t.

“We have seen, unfortunately, a bit of a spike in burglaries, both domestic and other-than dwellings – that’s business premises and derelict premises as well.

“It appears that this is spread across the south so not just the Arun area, we’ve had it in Chichester and Worthing.

“We believe there’s an organised group doing a proportion of them.” He added the force was conducting operations in burglary ‘hot spots’ to try and reduce crime in those areas.

The other crime officers were ‘seeing a real increase’ in was the number of con artists and fraudsters preying on the area’s vulnerable disabled and elderly residents.

Sgt Cheesman said there were three main types of fraud being committed, mostly over the phone.

The first involves scammers calling a victim claiming there was something wrong with their computer. They ask for remote access to fix it and bank details to pay for the fix.

Other scams see false charities preying on people’s goodwill, asking for donations to help projects which don’t exist.

The final and ‘most concerning’ con is where fraudsters call residents purporting 
to be the police, claiming their bank card has been fraudulently used.

They make victims believe they are calling their bank, when they are actually contacting a conman, who takes all their card details.

Sometimes fraudsters ask victims to hand over their bank cards to ‘police couriers’ – who are just other scammers.

Sgt Cheesman warned: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give your bank details and bank cards – certainly never your pin – to anyone.

“Second thing is, the police do not send couriers round to people’s places to pick up evidence. Don’t fall for it.

“If we do turn up and we are in plain clothes, do check our ID. If they can’t give any, then call us immediately.”

Residents are asked to make sure their elderly relatives and neighbours are made aware of possible scams.

Anyone who is concerned about a call they receive can contact Sussex Police on 101 or in an emergency telephone 999 and quote Operation Edisto.