What is doorstep crime?
Doorstep crime falls into two categories:
Distraction burglars will attempt to use convincing stories to manipulate their way into someone's home. They may claim to be from a reputable authority such as the police or the council, be a representative from a utility company or even be a neighbour looking for a lost ball. Once inside the property, they will steal goods themselves, or distract the homeowner while an unseen accomplice takes items of value.
Rogue traders will approach a property and offer services such as gardening work, gutter clearing, window cleaning or other house maintenance. They may claim that this work is necessary for their own safety, or that a local council has authorised the work. They carry out unnecessary or overpriced work, at a cost often higher than originally quoted.
NEVER accept work from anyone who offers it over the phone or at your door
NEVER go to the bank with a tradesperson or give them your account details
NEVER let anyone into your property unless you know them
REMEMBER that representatives from utility companies, local authorities or the police will always happily show their identification, wait for a trusted family member or friend to join the homeowner, or move to a different location before conducting any necessary business.
DO NOT accept a phone number they have provided to verify the individual. Use central office numbers from the internet or your local directory to find the legitimate number. You can also keep your account numbers handy and ask the person to provide this number. Ultimately though, if you are ensure: do not let them into your property.
Distraction burglars and rogue traders can target anyone, but the elderly and vulnerable are the most likely to be victimised.
Doorstep criminals may watch houses to establish properties belonging to older people, people living with a physical disability or with mental ill health.
Dorset Police works closely with Trading Standards, Local Authorities, banks and businesses, local organisations and charities to raise awareness of this issue. To make sure advice reaches as many people as possible, particularly those most of risk, the Force needs the help of the whole community.
One of the most important things you can do is to simply talk about doorstep crime.
Doorstep criminals often leave their victims feeling foolish or embarrassed, so people may be less likely to report the crime and important conversations may not take place.
- Encourage friends and family to familiarise themselves with our advice.
- Identify someone nearby who your friend or family member trusts, who they can call for support if they would like to verify someone's identity.
- Remind them that if someone they do not know is at their door, they have no obligation to let them into their property. If someone will not leave: call the police on 999.
- Start a discussion about their home security. Help them to complete a home security self-assessment and put measures in place, for example adding a safety chain to their front door, to help them feel safe. Find this form and more information about home security here.
To find an approved tradesperson or report an incident to Trading Standards, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 05 06 or visit www.buywithconfidence.com