A SENIOR police chief has urged the elderly to be on their guard against bogus officials following a spate of distraction burglaries.

Late last year, West Mercia police launched Knock Knock campaign to warn against conmen, but pensioners have been given the message to remain vigilant.

Det Chief Insp Martin Lakeman, head of CID in Worcester, Malvern Hills and Wychavon, said despite three warnings during the run-up to Christmas, people were continuing to be successfully targeted by unscrupulous criminals pretending to be utilities officials.

"The elderly are the most likely targets," he said.

"Unfortunately, they are also the least likely to heed the simple message of 'if in doubt keep them out' that we - constantly send to the public."

He added close friends and relatives could, and must, play a crucial role in helping police reinforce the message to the elderly and vulnerable.

Jonathan Bailey, director of customer relations for Severn Trent, said it was rare that the company's employees have to gain access to a property without a prior appointment.

"All staff carry identity cards, which occupiers should always ask to see," he said.

"People can also call 1800 7834444 to double-check the validity of our staff, which only takes a couple of minutes."

He added genuine personnel would quite happily wait outside until the checks had been made.

"They fully understand that occupiers need to be reassured they are bona fide visitors."

The latest incident occurred in Waresley Court Road, Hartlebury between 12.30pm and 1pm on Friday, January 21.

The bogus caller persuaded the occupant to empty a cupboard - allegedly to gain access to the stop-cock - and to go upstairs.

While he was alone he stole a small amount of cash and personal banking items.

The man is described as white, in his early 30s, about 5ft 9ins tall, of average build, clean-shaven and wearing a light-coloured jacket and trousers.

Anyone with information should call 08457 444888.