THREE pensioners were conned by a “cowardly trio” who trick their way into homes to steal cash and jewellery.

Two women are alleged to have carried out a string of distraction burglaries in which they knock on the door of an elderly resident and ask for a glass of water or a pen and paper.

Once inside the home, a third member of the gang, a man, sneaks inside the home to look for cash and other valuables.

Det Con Nick Gibson said: "The culprits behind these cowardly burglaries have quite clearly come up with a plan to deceive elderly residents in their own homes.

“The fact they committed three in such a short space of time makes the offenders not only cowards but also prolific criminals.”

An 88-year-old man living in Devonshire Road, Heaton, was targeted at 12.30pm on July 17; a 90-year-old woman living in Ainslie Road was burgled at 10.50am the next day; and an 83-year-old man from Welbeck Road was targeted on July 22 at 10am.

A 25-year-old woman and 46-year-old man have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and bailed until August 5.

Police raided a property following the arrests and have since recovered several items, including a distinctive gold Rotary watch with a personal inscription on the back.

They are hoping to trace the watch owner and also want other victims to come forward.

Victims told police the two women had eastern European accents, possibly Hungarian.

Shocked residents in Heaton have spoken with anger about the “evil burglaries”.

Margaret Connolly, aged 52, of Ainslie Road, said: “I think these people are just evil to do this to an elderly trusting person who has done nothing wrong — I am delighted that arrests have been made.”

Nicole Richards, aged 50, of Welbeck Road, said: “It is a real concern that this is going on around here and I think these people need a taste of their own medicine.”

Police said residents should look out of the window before answering the door and should also use a door viewer or door chain. They should also ask to see identification from the caller.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.