RESIDENTS WARNED OF BOGUS WATER OFFICIALS
Householders have been warned to be on their guard after a spate of incidents involving bogus water company officials.
There were four cases in just one day earlier this week, including one in Bedminster and another in Shipham, near Cheddar.
In the Bedminster incident, a Bristol Water customer received a phone call from somebody claiming to be from the company and appeared to know he had been contacted regarding a leak. But the caller also asked intrusive questions about the customer's family, job and income.
In Shipham, an elderly woman let a man who appeared to be from Bristol Water into her home. It is believed a second man searched the premises and took some jewellery and £100 in cash.
Bristol Water has urged people to check the identity of anyone claiming to represent the company and not to let anyone into their home if they are not sure.
Earlier this year, Bristol Water doubled the reward it offered to trap bogus officials and will now pay £4,000 to the first person who provides police with information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone impersonating one of its representatives.
At the time, the company said the number of cases where conmen posed as their staff to gain access to people's homes had become "all too common", with the elderly the main targets because they tended to be more trusting.
Bristol Water spokesman Jeremy Williams said: "These heartless criminals prey on the elderly in particular and we want to do all we can to try to stop them. "Of course, not all visitors claiming to be water officials are conmen. But when a real one visits a customer, he or she will show a proper identity card."
The company said its staff carried cards showing their name, photograph and their company identification. Bristol Water also operates a password service, allowing customers to register a password which company officials have to use if they call.
Householders who want to check someone's ID before allowing them into their home can call freephone 0800 373501.