A MAYORESS today blasted conmen who targeted two frail pensioners stealing £1,400 from them in less than two hours.

Police and welfare bosses are now urging old people in Accrington to keep their doors locked and refuse entry to anyone who cannot produce identity cards.

Coun Sandra Hayes was shocked to hear that elderly women, both living alone, were victims of incidents on Tuesday afternoon. Police do not know if the thefts are connected.

In the first, at 12.25pm, £400 was stolen from a 79-year-old disabled woman in the Wellington Court area of Accrington after a man "with a cheeky smile" said he was a decorator.

The victim had planned to use the money to buy a chair and has been left distraught.

Less than two hours later, a 91-year-old deaf and disabled woman fell victim to a conman who tricked his way into her home in Woodside Road area of Accrington by pretending he was from the electricity board.

Around £1,000 was stolen from the upstairs of her home by a man who sneaked in after the conman.

The victim, said by police to be fiercely independent, had planned to use the money to pay for a break in a rest home. The thefts are the latest in a long line of 'bogus official' crimes in the Accrington area, in which people have pretended to be water, gas and electricity workmen, council officials, handymen and social workers.

Today Coun Hayes, who works with Age Concern, said: "There is nothing more cowardly than picking on someone elderly. They are trusting people and I just wonder how these mindless morons would feel if it was their grandparents being robbed of their life savings?

"Our town's old folk are gutsy people who have worked all their lives to save that money, and many have fought in wars to ensure we live in the country we do now."

Detective Sergeant Nigel Watson said: "These were two crimes against people who were simply too trusting.

"We would urge pensioners not to keep large sums of money in their homes, even if they have done all their lives. They should also always ask for identification and put chains on their doors."

Vicky Shepherd, information services manager at Age Concern in Blackburn, said: "These crimes sadden us and we would urge pensioners to do all they can to make sure they do not become victims."

In the first incident one man is described as white, male, about 20 years-old, 5ft 8ins tall and was wearing a buttoned-up anorak and dark trousers. The victim said he had a 'cheeky smile.' His accomplice was a similar age but shorter.

The conman in the Woodside Road incident is described as being white, in his early 30s, quite tall, stocky and 'good-looking.'

His accomplice is also in his early 30s, was smaller than the first man, with medium build. He was wearing a long, black jacket.

Anyone with any information can call Accrington CID in confidence on 01254 353742.