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Do you remember scenes like these?

Do you, or someone you know, remember scenes like these?

Picture of woman using police phone. Picture of WPC on phone in street 1949.

Anyone who does is likely to be taking well-earned retirement and is more likely to be at home during the daytime, when doorstep crime is most likely to happen.

Doorstep crime is when opportunist criminals call, uninvited, at people’s homes and either try to convince them to have work done (rogue trading) or talk their way inside in order to steal cash or jewellery (distraction burglary)

So-called rogue traders often persuade people to have work done unnecessarily, do substandard work or overcharge.

Distraction burglars can be men, women or even children. They use a range of tactics, including pretending to:

  • be from a utility company (remember to be suspicious of anyone claiming to be from the ‘Water Board’ – they no longer exist!)
  • need a drink or to use the toilet
  • be working on a neighbouring property
  • be looking for a lost pet or ball
  • keeping you talking at the front door while an accomplice gets in through another open door or window

These crimes can have a significant impact on those affected. Life savings and jewellery with great sentimental value have been lost in this sort of incident. People can also be left suffering from anxiety and stress, feeling less secure in their own home.

We work hard with Trading Standards officers, Neighbourhood Watch groups, charities and communities to try to prevent these crimes.

Some simple things will help to deter doorstep criminals:

  • Remember, if you’re not sure, don’t open the door
  • Check with the company or organisation a caller claims from, using the number in the phone book
  • If you are suspicious of a caller ring 999 straight away
  • If you see someone calling door-to-door, but only on frail or elderly neighbours, call 999 straight away
  • Join Neighbourhood Watch
  • Set up a No Cold Calling zone – contact your neighbourhood policing team or local Trading Standards officers to find out more
  • Don’t keep large sums in cash at home
  • Keep windows and doors secured if you’re not in the room

If you need to have work done on your home:

  • Ask family and friends to recommend a reputable trader
  • Seek three quotes for the work
  • Insist on a cooling-off period before any work starts – traders are required to offer this and reputable firms will never pressure you into having work start immediately
  • Never pay cash up front or allow a trader to take you to withdraw money

Remember, genuine callers from utility companies, the council or police:

  • will expect you to check their identification before opening the door
  • would never try to rush you by claiming there’s an emergency
  • will happily make an appointment to come back when you can have a relative or friend with you