A NATIONWIDE database is being used to trace bogus water board officials responsible for a spate of burg-laries in Northwich and the surrounding area.
Five reports of men calling at homes claiming to be from a water company were received by Cheshire police on Wednesday - two took place in Northwich, two in Hoole and one in Frodsham, and police believe they are all linked.
Officers are now liaising with a team based at the force's Winsford HQ involved in a national operation to target bogus callers. The team has access to a huge database which contains a wealth of details about bogus callers from the lines they use to gain access to a home to the types of vehicles they use.
Chief Insp Nick Adderley said: 'This database is a great step forward in the fight against the callous criminals who trick their way into the homes of people who are often vulnerable or elderly.
'And because it contains data from all over the country, we have access to details of bogus callers in other areas. Criminals often travel outside of where they live to commit crime so this is a real bonus.'
In the incidents in North-wich, one man made a sharp exit after the home owner refused entry and asked for ID at around 1.30pm on Wednesday, then an hour later a man stole £1,000 in cash from elderly occupants after gaining access to a house on Bond Street.
The men claimed to be carrying out safety checks after water or gas leaks. They were between 30 and 40 and wore blue shirts. There has also been reference to an Irish accent and beard and moustache.
Chief Insp Adderley said: 'Obviously, it cannot be ruled out that these incidents are linked and I would urge everyone to be extra vigilant at this time.
'Always ask for ID and never let a stranger in if you are not 100% positive they are who they say they are.
'Get a number from a bill to call the company a caller claims to be from to check them out. Don't use a number they give you. A genuine company worker will not mind being checked out in this way.'
* Anyone who believes they have seen the men should call police on 0845 458000.