Sign up and help beat distraction burglars

The elderly are being urged to protect themselves from distraction burglars
The elderly are being urged to protect themselves from distraction burglars
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People are being asked to help protect elderly and vulnerable people from doorstep crime and rogue traders.

Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards are asking people across the county to sign up for a scheme to help reduce these types of crimes.

Doorstep crime can take two forms – distraction burglary, where ‘bogus callers’ will call at a house with the intention of tricking their way inside to steal money and other valuables, and rogue doorstep traders, who will use a trade as a means to extract large sums of money from people. The victims tend to be elderly or particularly vulnerable.

The Doorstep crime Action Network – known as DAN – brings together police, trading standards, members of the public and a variety of public, private, voluntary and community organisations, to help tackle doorstep crime in Northamptonshire. The network has been in place for more than four years and more people are being encouraged to sign up.

Laura Jones, deputy head of prevention and community protection for Northamptonshire Police, said: “The number of distraction burglaries reported to us has fallen significantly over the past few years. During 2013, 26 distraction burglaries were reported, compared to 34 in 2012 and 65 in 2010. However, while the numbers are relatively small, the impact on the victim can be huge and can really affect their sense of confidence and security in their own home.

“In Northamptonshire, we work closely with trading standards to share information and respond to offences, making sure we use all the powers available to us to close the net on criminals and make this county a difficult place for them to work.

“Anyone in the community can become part of the Doorstep crime Action Network by keeping a look out and passing on gentle reminders to help prevent vulnerable people from becoming a victim of doorstep crime.

“There is also a dedicated doorstep crime hotline. If you suspect that doorstep rogue traders or distraction burglars are operating in your community or targeting someone you know, please report it by calling 0345 23 07 702.”

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, said: “We encourage everyone in our community to support DAN. Trading standards officers often receive complaints about poor or incomplete work, high pressure, intimidating sales tactics, failure to provide written cancellation rights and substantial price increases from the original price quoted for work. Our advice is always the same; if you’re not sure don’t open the door. And if you do need some work done at home, use our Buy With Confidence scheme to find a trader who is trading standards approved.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said: “The Doorstop crime Action Network is a valuable scheme which gets the wider community involved in supporting and sharing advice with those who need it. Distraction burglars and rogue traders often target the most vulnerable in our society and it is important we work together to target offenders and prevent it happening in the first place.”

Laura Jones added: “Historically, we’ve tended to see an increase in doorstep crime in the spring so we’re reminding people to be vigilant. The main advice is always the same: IF YOU’RE NOT SURE DON’T OPEN THE DOOR. Please pass this and the following advice on to anyone you think may benefit from it.”

For more information about DAN, doorstep crime prevention advice and a range of leaflets and posters to download, visit www.northants.police.uk/lookout.

For help finding a reliable, local trader, check out trading standard’s Buy with Confidence scheme at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders.