POLICE have released an e-fit of a man after an 80-year-old pensioner was targeted in a distraction burglary in West Parley.

A man claiming to be a tree surgeon approached the victim at her home in Ellesfield Drive, quoting her £600 to cut a tree in her back garden using a cherry picker. He then drove her to the bank and waited while she took out the cash, took the money but never returned to do the work.

Dorset Police are now appealing for anyone with information about the incident, which happened around 10.45am on Wednesday November 19, to come forward.

Deputy Neighbourhood Inspector Simon Perry, of Ferndown police, said: “The offender was said to be driving a white tipper van in the West Parley area for around 30 minutes on the morning of Wednesday November 19.

“As part of my investigation, I am now in a position to release an e-fit of the suspect. I urge anyone who recognises the man or who saw someone matching the description of the offender or the van, to contact me. All calls will be dealt with in strict confidence.”

The offender is described as white, five feet eight inches tall, of medium build with short greying hair. He was chubby in the face and wore blue jeans, a grey or blue coloured long-sleeved shirt and a baseball cap.

Inspector Perry advised residents to be vigilant. He added: “Do not buy, sell or sign up to any work on the doorstep no matter how urgent the caller tells you the work is. Keep the door chained when speaking with strangers. If you think you may need repairs done to your property, get at least two written quotes.

“If you are suspicious of a caller's intentions, tell them to go away and call a family member or neighbour and inform the police on 101. If they won't leave, then call 999."

Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting incident number 19:438. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.