HAMPSHIRE police is this week highlighting the dangers of distraction burglary as part of a national awareness campaign.

Elderly homeowners are particularly being urged not to allow anyone into their property who they do not know or who fail to provide any identification if they claim to be from a utilities company.

Burglars trick their way into the homes of residents often by claiming to be from the waterboard - that no longer exists - or that they are carrying out maintenance work, while an accomplice searches the property for cash and goods.

From April to November this year there were 40 offences recorded of distraction burglary across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with 97 per cent of victims aged over 60.

The same figure was recorded for the same period last year. Assistant Chief Constable Paul Broadbent said: “We have chosen to focus on distraction burglaries this week because this crime can have a profoundly negative effect on victim's lives. “We also know that this is an under-reported crime: research suggests that less than 10 per cent of these types of crimes are reported to the police. “Police are working hard to tackle distraction burglary and will continue to do so but we want to use this week to alert people to this crime.”

Officers are urging residents to look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and report anything suspicious to the police. For more prevention advice for distraction burglary or any other burglary go to www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/advice-and-information/crime-prevention/safer-homes