‘Despicable’ doorstep conmen - police warning

PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 August 2012


‘DESPICABLE’ bogus doorstep callers preying on vulnerable people are being targeted by police as Avon and Somerset Constabulary looks to raise awareness of the crimes.

‘If you’re not sure, don’t answer the door’ is the warning from the force following two recent cases in the area which saw older and vulnerable people targeted by men working in pairs.

In one incident, a man was outside gardening when two men approached him and began to talk to him about the garden, before he noticed one of the men had disappeared and went inside to find jewellery and cash had been stolen.

Police are also urging people to be on the lookout for loved ones and older neighbours in an effort to curb the crimes.

Superintendent Keith McCoubrey said: “If an unexpected visitor is persistent or people are worried that the caller is not genuine they should always call the police.

“These criminals are particularly despicable because they target the most vulnerable and elderly members of our community and rely on their trusting nature and decency to gain access to their homes. If you do not know who is calling at your home don’t invite them in, be confident and turn them away.

“Thankfully these types of crimes are falling year-on-year but we know the impact it can have on a person’s quality of life and their feelings of security and safety in their own home.

“This can happen to anyone. The more aware we are as a community and the more we look out for each other the stronger we are in the fight against these criminals and the less opportunity they have to exploit people.”

Police issued the following tips to help combat the crime:

• If you are out in your garden always secure your doors and windows and keep the key with you.

• Always use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider. Don’t use any telephone numbers provided by the caller – they may be bogus. Genuine callers won’t mind making an appointment for a date when you can have someone with you. This gives you time to check their identity too.

• If you’re not sure who is at your door, check the identity of the caller by calling the company they are claiming to be from.

• Never use companies who make unsolicited calls, don’t provide contracts, or offer to do work for cash.

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

• Many service providers provide password schemes and it can be helpful to sign up to these. When unannounced callers knock at your door they should know the password if they are genuine.

• Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times.

• Where possible, have a safety chain fitted and always attach the chain before opening the door to strangers.

• If you are not a member of a neighbourhood watch scheme, have you thought about starting one? Being a member brings an extra feeling of safety and encourages neighbours to help look out for one another.

• Remember it’s your doorstep, your decision.

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