Police have today also released CCTV images of a man they believe may be responsible for theft of a valuable painting from the home of Miss Ursula Overbury in Kensington.

The suspect is seen on CCTV withdrawing cash using the victim's credit cards at 11:40pm on Saturday, January18 , outside Phones 4U on Oxford Street, just hours after the burglary took place.

The painting, 'The Comet of 1858' by Samuel Palmer, is estimated to be worth £100,000 and was stolen along with jewellery and bank cards from the home of 89-year-old Ursula, following an elaborate scam. The victim, who lives alone, received a phone call from a man claiming to be a police officer and saying her credit card had been used in a crime and she needed to contact her bank.

'The Comet of 1858' Samual Palmer
'The Comet of 1858' Samual Palmer

She said: "The man who phoned me said he was holding two men in a nearby police station in connection with the crime. He told me I must ring my bank straight away. Which I did. This is when I was told a man would come by from the bank's fraud team and collect anything of value for safe keeping.

"The man turned up soon after. He was around 30-years-old, quite a slight man, 5'10, dark haired with a little moustache and well spoken. He seemed very nice and I didn't feel at all threatened by him. He took The Comet off the wall and wrapped it in a bath towel and also took some of my jewellery and bank cards. After he'd left I started to think about what had just happened.

"It had all happened so quickly but it didn't feel right. I phoned the police and they turned up straight away. I was absolutely mortified that I had fallen for a scam that had led me to hand over such a treasured family heirloom."

CCTV of the suspect at the cashpoint and walking away
CCTV of the suspect at the cashpoint and walking away
 

Detective Sergeant Jon Lightfoot, from Kensington and Chelsea CID, said: "Such scams against the elderly and vulnerable are despicable and heartless. Understandably Miss Overbury has now lost trust and confidence in people calling or visiting her home. We have placed a dedicated officer to support Miss Overbury which we hope can try and alleviate some of her fears whilst we make every effort to trace the suspects.

"The thief has not only helped himself to her jewellery and credit cards, he has also stolen Miss Overbury's most prized possession, her Samuel Palmer painting. This work of art, which is a family heirloom, holds great sentimental value and is Miss Overbury's pride and joy.

Miss Overbury added: "The painting was my father's as Samuel Palmer had links with my father's side of the family. It had always been in the family house and was very dear to me. I was very proud of it and I'm just heart broken that I assisted these conmen. It has made me question everything. I have now requested that I'm ex-directory as he must have got my number from the phone book. I feel very worried and shocked about this. All I want now is my painting back."

Do you recognise the man in the CCTV? Or have you seen this painting in the last three weeks? Please call Kensington and Chelsea CID on 020 8246 0231; or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, with any information.