Distraction burglars in Willesden Green steal 80-year-old pensioner’s £53,000 life savings

Victim of robbery, Richard Walsh, with Tony Antonio, chair of a crime prevention scheme

Victim of robbery, Richard Walsh, with Tony Antonio, chair of a crime prevention scheme - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Cruel tricksters made off with an 80-year-old’s £49,000 life savings in the first of two burglaries at his Willesden Green home.

Victim of robbery, Richard Walsh. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Victim of robbery, Richard Walsh. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

And with the thieves still at large four months on, Richard Walsh says he has become afraid to leave his home in Hawthorne Road.

He told the Brent & Kilburn Times: “I’m a bundle of nerves. I’m afraid to go out and when I do I don’t know if I’m going up or down the street – I don’t know what I’m doing.

“I’m afraid that someone’s going to attack me so now I carry an alarm in my pocket.”

A crook posing as an officer from the water board rang the bell on June 5. He showed the pensioner his false credentials, saying next door’s water had been switched off and Mr Walsh’s supply needed checking.

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The pair went into the kitchen, where the conman again said he needed to switch the water off.

But unknown to Mr Walsh, the man’s accomplice had got in through the open door and found cash totalling £49,320 stashed away in two different rooms.

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Mr Walsh said the “water board officer” asked him to stand to one side – which he did, not realising he was allowing the other man to escape unseen.The first man finally said there was nothing wrong with his water and left.

With his younger brother Jerry, Mr Walsh reported the theft to police only to be told the case was closed two weeks later.

But the ordeal wasn’t over. Coming back from a walk in a park on August 31, Mr Walsh saw he’d been burgled a second time, the thieves this time using a screwdriver to disable his lock.

“My brother had given me £2,000 and I try to save some of my pension,” he said, “and they took that – more than £3,000 I had in the wardrobe. They took the lot. All my savings.”

Tony Antoniou MBE, chairman of Brent Crime Prevention Scheme, has given Mr Walsh security chains for his home and a personal alarm to carry.

“Mr Walsh is petrified,” he said. “Preying on elderly people is not acceptable behaviour. We need to bring these men to justice.

“Please, please, please don’t let anybody in that you don’t know, even if they sound convincing. Use your utility bill to call up the service provider. If the person at the door is genuine, they will understand.”

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