Police are appealing for witnesses after two elderly women in Chichester and Bognor Regis fell victim to distraction burglaries.
An 83-year-old woman was home alone in Farndell Close, Chichester, when she heard a knock at the door between 4pm and 5pm on Wednesday (14 February).
She did not answer and remained in her lounge, and the next thing she recalls is seeing a man in her property, who claimed there was a gas leak, according to a police spokesman.
The victim challenged him and the suspect left with her landline phone, after she stated she would call police, the spokesman said.
Following this, she also noticed her £400 cash pension, along with her handbag and bank cards, had been stolen, confirmed the spokesman.
Police describe the suspect as a white man, aged in his 20s or 30s, about 5ft, unshaven and of scruffy appearance.
He was wearing a jacket with hi-vis stripes and a blue beanie hat.
The same day, an 89-year-old woman answered her door to a man who claimed there was an issue with the water supply in Berrymill Close, Bognor Regis, at about 3.45pm.
She let him in to the kitchen and he went to the sink.
When challenged for ID, the man left the address, police said.
Following this, the victim discovered £150 had been stolen from her purse, the spokesman said.
Police describe the suspect as a white man in his 40s, wearing a hi-vis jacket.
He spoke with a cockney accent which may have been false, added the spokesman.
Police are urging residents to remain vigilant, and are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.
Detective Constable Ellie Hughes said: “These are despicable crimes in which two elderly women have been left not only out of pocket, but also in fear of their own safety in their own homes.
“We believe the incidents may be linked, and there’s also a possibility the key suspect described in each case may not have been acting alone.
“We would urge residents to remain vigilant and to report anything suspicious to us.
“It’s also important to remember to challenge any unknown callers for ID.
“You can check this by calling the service provider they claim to be from.
“Keep your properties secure by locking them or putting your front door on a chain, and if in doubt, don’t let them in.”
Anyone with any information is asked to report it online or call 101 quoting serial 834 of 14/02.
Alternatively, you can visit the Crimestoppers website or contact the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.