Horsham man sprayed in face with ‘noxious’ fluid and robbed

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Police are appealing for witnesses after a Horsham man was robbed of his safe at his home by bogus ‘water board’ callers.

At 9.40am on Tuesday July 24, three men called at the house in Leith View Road, Horsham, claiming they were from ‘the water board’ and that there was a leak at the address.

Once they were inside the 63-year old man became suspicious of them and challenged them as to their real motives.

At this point, one of the men sprayed a noxious substance of some kind into the man’s face and while he was distracted they took a small safe, attached to the cover of an old record player, and left.

It contained cash and jewellery but details, including a description of the safe, are not currently available.

They drove away in the direction of Crawley in a silver Vauxhall hatchback type saloon.

The victim’s 87-year-old mother, with whom he lives, was in the house at the time of the offence although she was not involved in the incident.

The victim himself, who was badly shocked, was treated at East Surrey Hospital for eye injuries caused by the fluid, but the injuries are not currently assessed as being serious.

All the suspects are described as white. One is believed to be particularly short, about 4’10” to 11”, of stocky build, in his twenties, wearing a grey NY baseball cap, grey trousers and a light top.

The second man was 5’ 6”, of slim build, in his late thirties, with light coloured hair, and was wearing blue trousers with paint on, and a blue shirt with a ‘Transco’ badge, apparently bearing the photo of him or another man. The third man was 6’, in his forties, had a moustache and was wearing a white top. All three were wearing gloves.

Detective Constable Phil Peadon said: “We are appealing for witnesses, and ask that if anyone becomes aware of someone trying to dispose of a safe, please call the police via 101 quoting serial 0403 of 24/7. You can also call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 1111.

“This was a despicable crime. People need to be cautious when answering the door to strangers. Any number of reasons are given to distract residents and we urge people to be extra careful, closing the door, checking identity, and be on their guard. If in doubt call 999, and if you have seen similar suspicious activity your area recently, call police on 101.”