POLICE are warning residents to be vigilant for rogue traders after incidents involving elderly couples in the New Forest being charged to have rats removed from their gardens.

A group of four men called on a couple in their 80s at their home in Mopley, Blackfield offering to carry out gardening work.

The couple agreed to the work and paid for work to their garden.

They were then told by the men that there were rats in their garden and that this required urgent work or they would be in trouble with the council.

The men returned again several days later, advising the couple that there were even more rat nests in the garden, and this would cost more money to sort out.

They led the elderly woman into her home and, as she started to count money, one of the men grabbed it from her.

She believes around £5,000 was taken.

The men are described as white and wearing caps and tight jackets.

One was in his early 20s and the other three were in their 40s.

"One was described as being “fat and unable to do his coat up”.

A similar incident was reported in The Vale, Hythe between 25 April and 2 May where two men charged a woman in her 70s large amounts of money for gardening work and removing rats. 

Detective Constable Russell Smith said: “These are despicable crimes that have seen vulnerable victims preyed upon.”

Call 101 quoting 44180156700.