We’ve disrupted several scams against elderly people this week as part of a national campaign against so-called ‘rogue traders’.
As well as carrying out stop checks and arrests, officers and PCSOs have been working with council Trading Standards teams and the community to spread doorstep crime prevention messages.
In one incident officers intercepted a telephone scam in Thornbury where offenders were repeatedly targeting an elderly woman. They were in the process of defrauding the victim out of £7,000.
Officers also arrested a man on suspicion of burglary after entering the house of a couple in their 90’s in Glastonbury claiming to be checking for damp in their house. He has been released under investigation.
Nationally, the last Rogue Trader Operation in 2016 saw nearly 300 people arrested, and nearly £3million worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected. During the week, officers:
• Carried out high visibility patrols in no cold calling zones
• Visited previous victims to make sure they are protecting themselves
• Used unmarked vehicles to patrol traders
• Held talks at coffee morning, libraries and churches about the signs and dangers
• Spoke to possible victims on buses and public transport
• Stopped suspicious vehicles at road checks across the country
• Visited banks, building societies and Post Offices to remind staff how they can help their customers stay safe from doorstep crime
• Worked with Trading Standards officers and other partners such as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and council Waste Management officers, Environment Agency and Department of Work and Pensions to stop vans on main routes and speak to traders – most reputable traders support our action against unscrupulous rogues.
Detective Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said: “Rogue traders target the most vulnerable in our society and will use any tactic to gain their trust before stealing from them.
“It’s hard to comprehend the effect these crimes have on the victims – some never recover from the horror of having their homes raided.
“The aim of this week of action is to help people feel confident about dealing with strangers on their doorstep.
"Everyone has a part to play - many of us have vulnerable elderly relatives, friends or neighbours and I would ask that you help us to help them stay safe.
"The most important message for anyone concerned about doorstep crime is ‘it’s ok to say no’.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Rogue traders carry out the ultimate act of betrayal. Too often I have heard of incidences where these despicable individuals prey on people and abuse their trust.
"The exploitation of people through ‘cold-calling’ and distraction burglaries will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.
“Remember, it is your doorstep, please do not let these people bully their way into your home.
"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." You can help possible victims by:
• supporting them with their banking - helping them get to their branch or with online banking - so they don't keep large sums of cash at home
• keeping household maintenance and gardening under control, or helping to get three quotes from reputable traders for any work that needs doing
• encouraging your older friends or relatives to keep their doors and windows secure. If they have mobility problems and have regular visitors like Meals on Wheels or carers, consider getting a door entry system fitted
• calling 101 to report anyone going door-to-door calling on vulnerable elderly neighbours as it happens, with descriptions and vehicle details
It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door and legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine. Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions. Activity in your area: In Bristol officers:
• Had a stand in the Galleries Post Office with officers handing out information to potential victims and family / friends / neighbours
• Previous victims were visited across the city to make sure they had not been approached again and felt confident in saying no
• Used a mobile unmarked vehicle with plain clothed officers on patrol pro-actively checking traders in the city.
• Visited banks & Post offices.
• On foot were door knocking and dropping leaflets to vulnerable persons In Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire officers:
• carried out checks on vans on the A4 in Bath
• delivered crime prevention talks and information at coffee mornings, libraries, church groups, sheltered housing and in No Cold Calling Zones as well as through Meals on Wheels
• spoke to shoppers at supermarkets
• travelled on local buses raising awareness among passengers. In North Somerset:
• Stop checks were held throughout the area assisted by partner agencies including; HMRC , Trading Standards and VOSA
• Officers visited car washes with HMRC to make sure correct employment rights were observed
• Post Offices, garden centres and other areas frequented by elderly residents were visited for proactive engagement.
• Officers in plain clothes patrolled addresses which were having building or landscaping work to make sure everything was lawful. In east Somerset officers:
• teamed up with Meals on Wheels to deliver crime prevention advice in Wells and Frome
• worked with local housing associations to review and improve security measures at vulnerable people’s homes
• the Bobby van visited a number of vulnerable people’s homes to carry out a security survey and make improvements such as fitting door chains and window locks In west Somerset officers:
• Visited car washes in Burnham-on-sea, West Huntspill and Winscome to check the working conditions
• Held high visibility patrols in No Cold Calling Zones in Cheddar, Axbridge, Wedmore, Berrow, Brean and Highbridge
• Had a display at the Asda and Morrisons in Bridgwater.
For more advice and information, visit - https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/newsroom/features/its-ok-to-say-no-our-message-to-older-people-in-fight-against-fraud/
Posted on Friday 12th May 2017