Police are searching a gang of masked burglars who carried out a two-day reign of terror on elderly people.
The four callous burglaries in Kempston, Bedford and Stevington last week could well be linked, say officers.
The burglars, who even tore the rings off a pensioner’s fingers, all wore balaclava masks and threatened violence.
Their first strike was in Bedford’s Windrush Avenue last Thursday, when a group of masked men forced their way into a house around 8am.
“The victim was threatened and told to sit in the living room while they searched the house. No items were taken,” said a police spokesman.
Just over an hour later, a gang of men forced the front door open of a house in Kempston, where a man in his 80s was at home alone.
The pensioner was ordered to keep quiet and threatened. The burglars demanded cash and searched the house to pocket items of jewellery - including the rings the man was wearing.
They made off in a dark coloured car believed to be an Audi.
Police were still busy investigating these offences when the alarm was raised in Stevington on Saturday evening.
Offenders forced their way into a house in Court Lane between 8pm and 8.30pm, purporting to be investigating a gas explosion.
They stole a “significant amount” of money, jewellery and a purse, say police.
Shortly afterwards a gang of four men entered another house in the street and threatened the terrified occupants before stealing a large amount of money and more jewellery.
Three of the men were black, and one was only 5ft 4ins tall, while his accomplice was just 5ft 6ins. All wore balaclavas and scarves covering their mouths.
Detective constable Jason Wheeler said: “These were awful offences in which the victims were put through terrifying ordeals.
“We are investigating the possibility that these offences are linked and are appealing for the public to help us ensure they are caught for this despicable crime.”
Anybody with information should contact DC Wheeler on 101, text 07786 200 011 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.