Doorstep crime fraudsters targeted in week of action

18 April 2016

A week of action has been carried out in Dorset to spread awareness of rogue traders and distraction burglars who prey on the elderly and vulnerable by trying to con them out of money or trick their way into their homes.

Dorset Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs), Trading Standards officers and representatives from the Land Registry patrolled streets across the county and spoke to legitimate traders and householders who were having work done as part of a week-long crime prevention initiative.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and Trading Standards also held community engagement events in banks, post offices and in shopping precincts across the county, to help local people recognise the extreme lengths fraudsters go to in order to obtain money through unlawful means.

During the national day of action on Wednesday 13 April 2016, officials in Dorset spoke to over 100 members of the public and 39 traders.

All tradespeople were legitimate and the vast majority of residents were happy with the work being carried out on their properties.

No reputable traders will call at your door without invitation. Legitimate callers will not mind if the door is closed and locked while their identity is verified.

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.

Insp Ernie Henley, territorial policing lead for doorstep crime, said: “We are working with partner agencies to help prevent the public becoming victims and to bring those who commit such crimes to justice, not just in the week of action, but all year round.

“Doorstep crime - where criminals trick their way into peoples’ homes or con people to having work done - causes great distress to the victims who are often the most vulnerable members of society.

“Dorset Police sees a rise in such crimes through April to June, so we are asking the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities.

“In no circumstances give your bank account details or Personal Identification Number (PIN) to anyone – over the phone or on your doorstep.

“Our message is simple; ‘be sure who is at your door’ and never accept work from anyone who tries to sell you services at your door. Never let anyone into your home if you don’t know them.”

Crime Prevention Officer, Debbie Oldfield said: “The people who carry out poor or unnecessary work take business away from legitimate tradespeople in the first instance. They want to do a good job and need the business for their livelihoods.

“Legitimate traders told the police and Trading Standards officers in the week of action that they are keen to see proactive work being done as they often have to repair dodgy work which has been done by rogue traders.

“Every trader and resident who was spoken to was happy with the work being carried out. On a couple of the jobs, the builders/gardeners had been called in to make good the work that previously had been done by rogue traders.”

Trading Standards and Planning Enforcement Manager, Andy Sherriff, added: “Rogue traders come in many guises – builders, roofers, paving contractors – but all of them make their money by preying on vulnerable, honest and trusting local residents.

“The work being done by officers across the county is just a small part of the role played by Trading Standards’ professionals in protecting local people and redressing the balance against these conmen.

“There is a key message for householders – don’t be rushed into accepting a quote or believing scare-stories peddled by doorstep callers. Sit down, have a cup of tea and take some advice. Friends and neighbours can check things out, and our Buy with Confidence scheme will find you trusted and reliable traders.”

PCSOs and Trading Standards officers arranged community engagement events across in the county in post offices/banks. Local people were given advice regarding keeping safe, doorstep trading and advised about the Buy With Confidence Scheme.

Leaflets and No Doorstep Calling stickers were also given out.

Crime Prevention Guidance:

• If you are not sure who is at your door – don’t open it.
• Remember to use your door chain if you have one before you open your front door to strangers.
• Always check the identity of all visitors if they are not known to you before opening your door.
• Always look up telephone numbers for yourself – do not accept numbers provided by callers as they could be bogus.
• Beware of common tricks such as being asked to make a telephone call, wanting to retrieve a lost ball (even if it is a child) or being asked to check your water, gas or electric. If in doubt keep your door secure.
• Always keep doors and windows secure – it is easy for strangers to enter the rear of your home when you are busy answering the front door to their accomplice.
• Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home. Put it in a bank or Post Office account.
• To find an approved trader, call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 05 06 or visit
• If you think a friend or relative has been victimised call the police on 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress.

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