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Protect yourself from Rogue Traders and Doorstep Cold Callers

Alert message sent 07/05/2021 14:07:00

Information sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police

As lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted, there may be an increase in offences that start with a ‘cold call’ knock at your door, from someone claiming to be a tradesman working in the area. They call unexpectedly, offering services or goods that you have not asked for. Those who accept work often find the price increases or is left unfinished. Common types of work offered include pressure washing driveways, garden clearance, replacing loose roof tiles, repairing leaks or guttering and driveway work.

When you accept services from a doorstep trader you are likely to pay much more than the price initially agreed, for very poor, unnecessary and sometimes dangerous work and are likely be targeted by them again in the future. They often target the older generation who can be more trusting and vulnerable to falling victim to these offences. Doorstep traders rarely provide paperwork so they cannot be traced once they have left your home. Their names, addresses and business details are often false. They have no interest in doing work properly, their only concern is getting the cash and disappearing before Trading Standards or the Police can catch up with them. Genuine, reputable local tradesmen do not need to find work in this way and you should never feel pressured to accept any work or service you do not want. It is your home and your right to say ‘No’.

Cold Calling can also be a cover for criminals planning more serious offences such as burglary, car crime or ‘Bogus Official’ offences where they gain entry to a home by deception in order to steal while the occupant is distracted.

Common methods used by distraction burglars are:
• pretending to be from a care agency, the council or a utility company investigating a gas or water leak
• seeking help to leave a note for a neighbour or even asking for a drink of water if they claim to be thirsty or unwell
• claiming to be in a hurry or emergency and needing to get into your home quickly
• working in teams, with one person distracting you while the other searches your home

There are a number of things you can do to prevent distraction burglary. Always remember "if in doubt, keep them out":
• use your door viewer to see who is there and if you open the door put the chain on first
• always ask for ID and check it with the company before letting someone into your home. Genuine callers won’t mind checks - if you feel at all unsure, schedule a time for the caller to come back when a friend or relative is with you
• use the phone number advertised in the phone book or online, as the number on their identity card could be fake. For a utility company, call the customer service department and close the door while you do this
• for pre-planned appointments with utility companies, a password scheme can be set up
• If you feel threatened or in danger by the presence of the cold caller, call the police emergency number 999.

Please contact us if you have any information relating to crime in your neighbourhood. Report online at , call us on 101 or in an emergency dial 999.
Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on free phone 0800 555 111.

Thank you.
Message sent by
Karen Collins (Police, Admin/Co-ordinator, Wokingham)

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