Police are searching for a man who allegedly stole an elderly woman's OBE from her Croydon home after posing as a builder to gain entry.

At around 10am on Thursday March 21, the 89-year-old victim was alone in her Park Hill flat when the suspect, posing as a builder, knocked on her door stating that the flat above was flooding and he needed to check inside for a leak.

The victim invited him in, taking him to the kitchen where he asked her to clear out her cupboard. While she was doing this, the suspect suddenly claimed he had to leave.

Shortly after, the retired pharmacist realised her OBE, which she received in 1987 for services to healthcare, along with an OBE pin badge and her Evans medal for merit in pharmacy, were missing from a drawer in her bedside table.

Her purse, containing £120, had also been taken from the living room. It was posted back, empty, through the letter box five days later.

The 89-year-old said: “I was very upset by the incident because it’s a friendly neighbourhood and I was trying to be helpful.

"It was not only the loss of the money, but the medal that meant a lot to me, the OBE having been awarded to me personally by the Queen.

“I would like to warn people to make certain they know the identity of anyone who comes to the door before letting them in.”

Detectives have now released CCTV footage of the suspect, who is described as a white man aged in his 50s, approximately 5ft 7ins tall with grey hair and a grey beard.

At the time of the offence, he was wearing a light-coloured sports jacket, a red shirt, blue jeans, with light-coloured shoes, a black flat-cap and dark-coloured sunglasses.

Detective Constable Claire Samy, of the Met's South Area CID, said: "The suspect took advantage of this vulnerable woman in her own home - somewhere that should be a place of safety.

"Not only was cash stolen, but so was the victim's OBE medal which has huge sentimental value.

"The victim, who is now a retired pharmacist, received the medal over 30 years ago for her service to the NHS, having spent her career working in numerous hospitals in and around the capital.

"If you can offer any information which could assist the investigation, please get in touch as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting CR3808902/19.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.