A CONMAN dubbed the "Watch-man" has been targeting elderly residents in Hyndburn.
Police are warning people to be on their guard against the trickster, who poses as an antiques dealer and befriends his elderly victims before stealing valuable possessions from their homes.
Police believe the conman has struck four times in the Hyndburn area over the past three weeks, on one occasion stealing a valuable antique clock of great sentimental value from an elderly Oswaldtwistle man.
Last week he called at two homes on Garfield Street in Accrington, but left empty-handed. His eldest victim so far is 86.
The Watchman operates by knocking on doors and asking if the occupants have anything they want to sell.
Once inside, he offers to clean antique clocks and watches, takes them away and promises to return them within the week. He always gives a false name and contact number.
Police believe he has committed crimes across Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester and has struck over 40 times.
If there is nothing of any value on display, the Watchman usually asks for change for a £10 or £20 note, hoping to find out where the householder's money is kept.
DC John Davies, from Accrington CID, said: "It is believed this conman has struck many more times than we are aware of and I would urge anyone who feels they may have been targeted by this man to contact us.
"It is clear he is operating in our area and we want to catch him and put an end to his despicable behaviour. Although we are sure he has struck at least four times in Hyndburn, thankfully he has only got away with one item."
The Watchman is described as white, aged between 45 and his late 50s, with a Lancashire accent. He is between 5ft 9ins and 6ft tall and stocky with thinning grey hair and a rounded face.
He is clean-shaven, wears a dark coloured jacket and trousers, and always seems to be friendly and polite.
DC Davies added: "We would urge anyone, especially the elderly and vulnerable, not to let strangers into their house and to always ask for official identification. Contact the police if you are suspicious about any person; even the friendly and polite ones are not always as they seem."
Police forces across the North West are actively seeking this man. If anybody has any information about his whereabouts or identity, or feels they may have been targeted by him, they should contact Accrington CID on 353742 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.