PENSIONERS were put on alert today after a woman dressed as a nurse conned her way into pensioners' homes and stole their cash.

The conwoman told her victims she was a district nurse before making her way into the houses.

A police inspector today said he was so appalled by the crime that he had taken to the streets himself to try and catch the thief.

The woman has struck twice in the past ten days.

She first called at the home of an 82-year-old man in Birtwistle Fold, Colne.

After getting into the house she stole £85 in cash. The woman struck again in St Stephen's Way, Colne, on Monday.

She was dressed in what police have described as a "nursing type uniform" and this time made off with £10 from a 92-year-old woman.

Inspector Martin Holleran said: "These crimes have absolutely sickened me. I have been out on the streets myself to do some follow up enquiries because I am so annoyed these people have become victims.

"The people who carry out this kind of crime are just despicable.

"To prey on old people and steal what could be a considerable amount of money -- even ten pounds could be a lot of money to an elderly person -- is pathetic.

"For someone to use the trust nurses have earned and purport to be someone held in high esteem disgusts me."

The woman is described as white, in her 20s, 5ft 6ins tall, with shoulder length dark hair tied in a pony tail, slim build and a clear complexion.

Inspector Holleran said they needed the public's help to catch the woman.

He added: "We are going to do everything we possibly can to catch this person as quickly as possible, but we do need the public's help.

"If you do have people visiting, particularly nurses, we can check them out straight away. Real nurses will carry identification, this offender does not show an identity badge.

"If anyone does remember anything about these incidents please contact us as as matter of urgency and we will do everything we possibly can to prevent this happening in the future."

Shaun Noble, a spokesman for the Community Practitioners' and Community Health Visitors' Association said his organisation deplored crimes like these.

He added: "We think it is a very low thing for someone to do to vulnerable people and hope that the police catch them soon."

Mr Noble said people could check nurses' identity with relative ease.

He added: "Any elderly person or patient being visited in their homes should ask to see identification. Community nurses should always make an appointment before a visit so that people are not taken unawares.

"Any elderly person concerned about someone at their door should contact the Primary Care Trust who can check out the names of nurses."

Anyone with information should contact Colne Police on 01282 425001.