Police in Oldham are warning elderly residents of a scam where thieves pretend to have kicked a ball into a garden and then burgle their home.
While the victim helps to search for the fictitious ball and is distracted, another thief enters the house.
Police say they have received reports of it happening to a 73-year-old woman in Lees on 9 July, and to another woman, 69, in Medlock Vale on 2 August.
Det Con Natalie Sykes said the thieves had "no scruples".
In the first incident, a boy spoke to the woman and she tried to help him find the ball. Meanwhile, a man sneaked into the house and stole cash.
In the other incident, a man knocked on the woman's door and said his children had kicked the ball into her back garden.
She closed the door, but did not lock it, and went to look for the ball.
When the woman returned to the front of the house, the man told her he had the wrong house and left. She later discovered her purse and cash was missing.
Det Con Sykes, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This is a new type of distraction burglary that we want to draw people's attention to so they do not fall victim.
"It really is a cowardly act to target elderly people and either involves a young child in the scam or to pretend to be looking for a ball that 'children' have supposedly lost.
"The people responsible have no scruples."
She urged any other victims to contact police.