Residents fight back against conmen

A COMMUNITY shocked by the death of pensioner Thelma Avis has vowed to fight back against the threat of bogus callers.Mrs Avis, 90, died less than four hours after a conman tricked his way into her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester in July.

A COMMUNITY shocked by the death of pensioner Thelma Avis has vowed to fight back against the threat of bogus callers.

Mrs Avis, 90, died less than four hours after a conman tricked his way into her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester in July.

Police believe an accomplice burgled the house of £1,000 while Mrs Avis was distracted. The East Anglian Daily Times launched a poster campaign to help officers as they tried to track down those responsible.

Pensioners in the surrounding area were horrified by the incident, with some frightened to leave their homes.


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A major initiative will be launched in the area on Monday to educate elderly people about the dangers of bogus callers and to give them their confidence back.

Barn Hall Avenue will be one of the areas targeted by the teams, who will hand out fact sheets, talk about pensioner's fears and give them numbers they can call in emergencies.

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Street wardens, neighbourhood watch members, Colchester police, trading standards officials, housing association and Age Concern representatives will work in pairs to speak to residents.

Carole Dennis, borough co-ordinator for Neighbourhood Watch, said it was vital bogus callers knew they could not succeed in the town.

She said: "The death of Mrs Avis shocked people round here. It has frightened people and not just those who knew her.

"The media interest died down and people tend to forget what has happened, but these pensioners are still living behind their doors in fear.

"This is about support and giving people the message to bogus callers 'Don't come to Colchester, we are prepared for you, we are educated and you are going to find it harder'."

The volunteers will work from 9am to 4pm on Monday, covering an area between Mersea Road and Old Heath Road as they attempt to spread the message.

David Trick, community street warden supervisor, said the operation would help them identify vulnerable pensioners within the community and enable them to get vital advice to them.

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