POLICE are appealing for witnesses and warning Redditch residents to be vigilant after a series of offences in which a woman conned people out of money on their own doorsteps by claiming she needed cash for a taxi.

Three out of the six incidents were reported on Wednesday, May 21, and while most of them are being treated as fraud or attempted fraud one is being investigated as a distraction burglary. All the offences have taken place in the Winyates and Matchborough area of the town and it is believed that the woman responsible, who in each case has been on foot, lives locally.

In every instance the woman has claimed to need cash for a taxi, usually saying she is locked out of an address in the same street and needs the money to get back to her workplace and retrieve her house keys.

At Holyoakes Close at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 20 she turned up at the home of a vulnerable woman and after talking her way into the house she persuaded her to part with a total of £55.

Arrangements were made for the woman to bring back some groceries but she never returned.

The same woman is believed to have called at homes in Ledbury Close at 12.45am on Wednesday night and about half an hour later in Jackfield Close, again telling a variation of the same story and saying she lived nearby. On one occasion she was given £1 for a taxi but the other occupier became suspicious and she left empty-handed.

A further two incidents happened in Edgmond Close, Winyates West, between about 10pm and 10.15pm on Sunday, May 18, when the woman was given a total of  £22 for taxi fares. She also struck in Kinlet Close on Wednesday, May 14, between 8.30pm and 9pm, when she was given £10.

The offender is described as white, about 5ft in height, slim, with blonde or brown hair, and one witness believed she had a spotty complexion.

PC Paul Downes from the Winyates and Matchborough Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “It is concerning that she has struck at least six times in such a short space of time and it is quite likely there other incidents which have not been reported.

“If you know who this woman is or think you have seen her getting into a vehicle near any of these incidents then please let us know immediately. The most likely scenario is that she lives locally as she has struck at addresses in the same area and always appears to be on foot.

“We are urging residents not to hand over cash to anyone with a hard luck story, no matter how convincing they sound, and to contact the police immediately. It is also vital residents do not let anyone into the house who they do not know and use a chain or spy-hole to check who is at the door before opening it.”

Witnesses or anyone else with information are asked to contact PC Downes on 101 quoting incident 586-S-190514 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.