Police are investigating a spate of distraction burglaries involving elderly residents in the Worthing area.
During each incident, between two and four men have attended an address claiming to be from the council or the water board, and stating they require access to the property to check the pipes or relieve the pressure, said police.
While one offender engages with the occupant, the others search their home for cash and jewellery, added police.
A spokesman said: “At least three incidents have happened in the past four weeks – in Rectory Road, Worthing, at about 11.30am on September 21; in Onslow Road, Ferring, at about midday on October 2; and in Worthing Road, East Preston, at about 12.30pm on October 2.
“The first suspect is described as white, in his 40s, about 5ft 1in, of chubby build, with short wavy black hair. He wore a black jacket and trousers, and a white shirt.
“The second suspect is described as white, in his 30s or 40s, between 5ft 8in and 6ft, of medium to large build, with short ginger hair and crooked teeth. He wore a black jacket and a checked shirt on one occasion, but also wore a blue jumper and rimmed glasses on another.
“The third suspect is described as white, in his late teens, about 5ft 5in, with short dark hair. He wore a black jacket and trousers.
“The fourth suspect is described as white, in his 20s or 30s, about 5ft 11in, of fat build, with short scruffy dark hair and green eyes. He wore a light coloured jacket and dark baggy trousers.”
Police have said the three incidents are being linked due to their similar nature.
On neither occasion were any of the suspects carrying ID, added police.
Detective Constable Michelle Jewiss said: “It’s evident from the information received that a group of men are targeting elderly residents in the area, and we want to do everything we can to catch them and stop these vulnerable people falling victim to their callous crimes.
“We’d encourage people to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to us. Don’t let a stranger in your home without ID, no matter how convincing their story may be.
“Keep your door locked or at least on a chain. And don’t leave your valuables where they can be easily found; consider a more secure location.
“If you have older relatives or neighbours in your area, keep an eye out for them and remind them of the risks associated with cold callers.”
Anyone with any information is asked to report it online or call 101 quoting Operation Inroad.
Alternatively, people can visit the Crimestoppers website or contact the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.