GARDAI are investigating criminals who are conning their way into the homes of elderly and vulnerable victims by pretending they have found lost money.
The thieves, who include a woman, call at the rural homes of their targets and claim they have found a €50 note outside the house.
When the owner of the house attempts to check their wallet or purse, the criminals will then either snatch it from the victim's hands or sneak into the house to look for cash or valuables.
The latest incident took place at Kentstown, outside Navan, Co Meath, and gardai said a number of similar thefts were carried out in the county in the past few months.
Meath crime prevention officer Sgt Dean Kerins said: "It is always the elderly living in rural areas that are being targeted.
"There may be different people behind the theft but it's the same distraction scam."
Sgt Kerins appealed to local communities to advise elderly relatives or neighbours about the scam and to be wary of strangers calling at their doors.
"If in doubt, keep them out," he said. "Anyone who has an alarm pendant is also advised to press it if unsure of a caller."
But he said that burglaries in Meath, particularly in rural areas, had fallen by up to 30pc, mainly due to the success of a community text alert initiative.
"This initiative has resulted in a substantial reduction in burglaries around the county. If someone sees suspicious activity, they send a text around the community. It's also helping to unite communities," he added.