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Rogue traders targeted in week of action

Sue-speaking-at-LinkAge

PCC Sue Mountstevens opening the Knock Knock Safe and Scamwise Event hosted by Avon and Somerset Police and LinkAge

Rogue traders have been in our sights this week as part of a national week of action targeting criminals who con people into paying for substandard or non-existent home improvements.

All week we’ve been executing warrants, stopping and checking vehicles to make sure traders are operating legally and visiting community groups and vulnerable residents to talk about the danger posed by rogue traders.

Some of the activities across Avon and Somerset include:
•Three warrants executed
•Five arrests
•Three people detained for interview by Trading Standards following stop checks
•More than 300 vehicles stopped and processed by police and partner agencies
•38 vehicles taken off the road
•Police stands in libraries, supermarkets and doctors surgeries to issue crime prevention advice

Rogue traders are criminals who charge homeowners extortionate rates for home or garden improvements which are either overpriced, substandard or not required at all. These criminals often target elderly people and leave victims feeling scared in their own home, distrusting strangers and often suffering ill health because of the stress of their experience.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who opened the Knock Knock Safe and Scamwise event as part of the week, said: “To prey on people and abuse someone’s trust when they look for help is completely despicable.  Rogue traders carry out the ultimate act of betrayal and have a devastating impact.

“Lulling people into a false sense of security before exploiting them is something that will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.  If you’re not sure who’s at your door you don’t have to open it, genuine callers will make an appointment or will happily show you their identification on request.”

The action the police have been taking is part of Rogue Traders Week, a national event where the police service nationally, and partners including Trading Standards, have come together to shine a spotlight on the despicable people who target the vulnerable people in our society.

A key focus of the week across Avon and Somerset has been working with parts of the community who can help us look out for potential victims. We’ve been visiting banks and post offices to put up posters and talk to cashiers about what to do if they are concerned about customers wanting to make a sudden large withdrawal of money so that, if necessary, we can intervene before criminals are paid for their work. We’ve also been speaking to carers so they know what to do if they come across people doing building work during home visits.

Speaking about the week, Superintendent Geoff Wessell said: “Rogue trading and distraction burglary are a priority for us all year round but we’ve used this week to highlight the issue and help people protect themselves and their friends and family from these bogus traders.

“We all have a part to play in tackling rogue trading; we all need to know what to look out for to protect ourselves and to look out for relatives and friends, neighbours and the people we visit in the community.”

Stuart Brown, Chair of the Trading Standards Partnership South West Doorstep Crime Panel, said: “Tackling doorstep crime is our number one priority for 2014. We will extend every effort to catch those rogue traders who bring misery to the doorstep of elderly and vulnerable residents trying to enjoy their retirement in peace. I have been impressed by the commitment of South West trading standards services and police forces who are determined to pull together to deal with this problem."

For crime prevention advice visit the Doorstep Crime section of our website at: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/advice/property-money/burglary.
Posted on Friday 11th April 2014
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