Armed response teams on stand by in the hunt for masked attackers terrorising elderly people

By John Elworthy ARMED officers and dog handling units have been put on standby in the hunt for up to three masked men who robbed and attacked elderly people in their Fenland homes. Det Insp Mike Branston, who is leading the inquiry, described the attac

By John Elworthy

ARMED officers and dog handling units have been put on standby in the hunt for up to three masked men who robbed and attacked elderly people in their Fenland homes.

Det Insp Mike Branston, who is leading the inquiry, described the attacks as "particularly cowardly, and to have three such attacks in less than a week is very unusual."

He is fearful that the hooded gang could strike again and has put extra patrols into rural parts of Wisbech and the Fens to not only reassure residents but have police readily to hand should they be needed quickly.


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"Officers from CID, uniformed teams, some from other areas, firearms response teams, dog teams and a lot of officers are now involved in this investigation," he said.

"All it needs is for one elderly victim to be knocked over and we could have a homicide on our hands," he said.

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"These incidents that have happened in the past week are shocking: two of the victims are very elderly and it has been hard to communicate with them. Victim Support and Help the Aged, as well as other agencies, have been contacted to provide support for them and we are providing regular officer contact."

He said the value of the goods stolen was small, and mainly wallets and cash had been taken.

DI Branston said one line of inquiry was the possibility of a connection with leaflets being distributed in the area touting for business for gardening services.

"I would be very interested to hear from anyone in these areas who have had door to door canvassers looking offering gardening services," he said.

The most recent attack happened at just after 8pm on Sunday at the home of a 72-year-old man in Station Road, Murrow. The victim was confronted in his bungalow by two men who wore dark clothing and white masks and demanded money.

The men pushed him to the ground before taking property from the house. They then made off using a rear door. It is believed the men broke in through a bedroom window.

Another happened in Leverington Road, Wisbech, between 7.30pm and 8pm on Friday at the home of a 97-year-old man. Intruders forced their way into a pantry and then into the house where the victim was watching TV. They forced him to the ground and searched the house. It is not known if anything was stolen at this time and there are no further descriptions of the men.

The third incident happened in Stags Holt, near March, at about 9.30pm on Wednesday October 28 at the home of an 82-year-old man. Three men forced their way in through a rear door of the isolated bungalow and confronted the victim who was watching TV in his living room.

One man remained with the victim whilst the other two men have searched the property. Two of the men claimed to be police officers and were brandishing metal bars. They wore black balaclavas and black clothing.

Friends of the Stags Holt victim say he has been left extremely shaken by the robbery.

"They completely ransacked his home because they had been told he had money stashed away - he didn't," said a friend.

DI Branston said: "These are despicable crimes committed again elderly and vulnerable people and we are keen to catch those responsible as soon as possible.

"I am appealing for anyone who saw something suspicious or out of the ordinary at any of these locations in the past few days to get in touch.

"If anyone has any information about who might be committing these cowardly crimes they should not hesitate to call police."

Anyone with information should contact DI Branston, at Wisbech Police Station, on 0345 456 456 4, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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