BOGUS officials targeting vulnerable residents will be a priority for police in an attempt to stop rising numbers of people being scammed.

Police are urging residents to be aware of criminals requesting money for fake services following a recent spike across the town - which has included cold callers acting as a group in order to carry out distraction burglaries.

Bogus officials have claimed to work for Barnsley Council, the NHS or other official organisations in order to gain entry, while recent cases have seen them pretend to carry out maintenance work or collect money for local charities.

According to South Yorkshire Police, offenders have also been tricking their way into people’s homes to steal money or valuable items - a method known as a distraction burglary.

Official Barnsley-wide figures show burglaries have increased in January and February on the previous year’s statistics, although it is not known how many were forms of distraction raids.

A spokesperson from South Yorkshire Police said: “Offenders may make themselves seem genuine and friendly at the front door, keeping people distracted, while their partner manages to get into the home. Employees of official organisations would never ask for cash or for bank details.

“Always ask to see the identification badge of anybody attending your home. Employees from official companies will always be happy and able to provide an ID badge.

“Keep an eye out on neighbours as vulnerable, elderly and isolated people are often targeted, while Barnsley’s neighbourhood policing teams can be contacted to raise any concerns.

“If you do believe you have been approached by a bogus caller, report the details via 101.”