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Rogue traders and door-step criminals targeted in week of action


Various initiatives taking place across Avon and Somerset to target rogue traders

Police and partner agencies have been targeting rogue traders this week as part of a national week of action.

Rogue traders are criminals who charge homeowners extortionate rates for home or garden improvements which are overpriced, substandard or not required at all. These criminals tend to target elderly people who often suffer ill health after such a stressful experience.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Rogue traders carry out the ultimate act of betrayal and have a devastating impact.  Too many times, I have heard of incidences where these despicable individuals prey on people and abuse their trust.

"I have attended many community meetings and have meet with different groups of local people to help raise awareness of the dangers of 'cold-callers' and distraction burglars.  Remember, it is your doorstep, please do not let these people bully their way into your home.

"These targeted weeks of action show rogue traders that their behaviour 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 to come back at a later date or will be happy to wait while you check they are who they say they are."

Throughout the week police teams, Cadets and members of the Special Constabulary have been carrying out a range of activities including vehicle stop checks to ensure traders are operating legally, and running events and visiting community groups to raise awareness of this type of offending and other "door-step crime", which can also include distraction burglary.

Several arrests have also been made. In Yeovil, a 26 year-old woman from the Newton Road area of the town was arrested on suspicion of distraction burglary after targeting an elderly resident, calling at his home and stealing money from him.

A key part of Rogue Trader Week is the community-based activities carried out alongside partners such as Trading Standards, Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army to help publicise this type of crime.

Across the force area, the police have been visiting households, retirement homes, community groups and even Bingo sessions to give advice to the public. We have also been working with staff at banks and Post Offices to educate them as to potential warning signs of vulnerable victims – such as elderly people withdrawing unusually large sums of cash.

The police have also held presentations and events including Rogue Trader Advice Quizzes and set-up new "No Cold-Calling Zones" in streets across the area. Our Bobby Vans have been out across the force helping people to protect their home, giving security advice and making modifications to doors and windows.

Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: "We are committed to targeting rogue traders and bringing them to justice all year round, but this week of action provides an additional opportunity to raise awareness of this crime and the advice for householders if they are approached by a trader who is not operating within the law.

"Rogue trading is a very callous crime as it often targets elderly people and can have a significant impact on the victim in terms of their health and wellbeing following the offence.

"We would urge people to familiarise themselves with the crime prevention advice in relation to doorstep crime, to speak to elderly relatives or friends about it, and to always remember that you should never feel pressured into agreeing to have work done – it’s your doorstep and your decision."

What to do if someone calls at your door offering to do work:

  • Never agree on the spot to work being done on your home
  • Always get three written quotes from reputable companies and discuss these with family or friends before agreeing to any work being done
  • Don’t go to the bank or a cash point with anyone claiming to be a trader
  • Call a neighbour or family member if you feel you are being pressured into having work done.

For all callers that you’re not expecting, if you’re not sure, don’t open the door. If a caller refuses to leave, call the police on 999. Don’t let them into your home.

For further crime prevention advice visit the Doorstep Crime section of our website at: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/advice/property-and-money/burglary

Posted on Friday 2nd October 2015
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