Crooks on the doorstep

Published on: 10 Jun 2013

POLICE have warned householders across South Gloucestershire to beware of doorstep crime.

Unscrupulous individuals prey on vulnerable, elderly and disabled people, tricking them into letting them into their homes, overcharging for incomplete or poor work – or taking money for work that is never actually carried out.

Neighbourhood teams from the Avon & Somserset force have been out raising awareness with elderly residents, their families and relevant organisations about distraction burglary and rogue trading.

Police Inspector Andy Workman said: “Everyone we stopped and talked to was a genuine trader, but they were all really supportive of our work to catch the unscrupulous rogue traders who give tradespeople a bad name.

“Doorstep crime isn’t common, but it can have a long-lasting impact on victims’ lives. The key thing is always to use the door chain. If you’re not sure of a caller, don’t open the door – but do give us a ring.

“I’d ask anyone with elderly relatives or neighbours to make sure they’re on their guard against doorstep callers.”

In Kingswood and Staple Hill police have visited banks to ensure they make appropriate checks if elderly clients come in to withdraw large sums of money unexpectedly.

Officers are also working with Neighbourhood Watch and South Gloucestershire Council’s trading standards teams to give out advice on avoiding rogue traders.

Top tips on staying safe from rogue traders and distraction burglars:

• If you’re not sure who’s at your door, don’t open it

• Call a neighbour, family member or friend nearby to come along and check out the caller before you open the door to them

• Genuine callers will make an appointment to see you and will happily come when you have someone with you

• To check someone’s identify, use a telephone directory – don’t use a number given by the caller as it may be bogus

• Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home – put it in a bank or Post Office account

• Keep your doors and windows secure at all times

• If you suspect a bogus caller is at your door, call 999. Police would rather be called to a false alarm than not called at all.

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