I wanted to talk this month about a type of crime which causes particular concern in East Renfrewshire. The reason for the concern is that it involves criminals targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our community in their own homes.
I am of course talking about doorstep crime. Broadly speaking doorstep crime falls into two categories - bogus callers who will pretend to be somebody else to gain access to your home, and rogue traders who often cold call vulnerable people trying to convince them work is required on their home. Only this week we saw an elderly resident targeted by such individuals who on a whim increased the agreed price for a piece of work 100 fold.
Dealing with bogus callers first I would recommend thinking about your front door as your first and best line of defence. If you have a spy hole and door chain use them, ask for identification and do not be afraid to ask for a phone number to check with the caller’s employer if their enquiry is genuine.
Rogue traders are a particular issue in our area with its high proportion of owner occupiers. They have a number of different methods of trying to engage householders and we have recently seen two particular ploys.
The first of these involves the rogue trader claiming to be from a bona fide trader a householder may have used before. The second method involves them cold calling a householder and describing how they were passing and noticed a certain building defect.
In both circumstances as soon as the work starts the price rockets and we have seen five figure sums stolen from vulnerable residents in this way.
There are some simple steps householders can take to protect themselves the most obvious being not to engage anybody who cold calls at your home. East Renfrewshire Council run a Trusted Trader Scheme in conjunction with Renfrewshire Council full details can be found on the council web site.
We would recommend that you never pay cash up front and remember if the agreed work costs more than £42 you should be given written notice of your cancellation rights.
In terms of prevention activity we work closely with a range of partners to target the criminals involved in these types of crime. Officers regularly carry out joint operations with the trading standards team from ERC.
Along with staff from VOSA and DWP we carry out operations on the road network around the area stopping vans, inspecting them for roadworthiness and interviewing the occupants.
Along with ERC prevention team we have worked with local banks providing information to staff urging them to challenge customers who are making large cash withdrawals, only this week we were alerted by a bank teller who became suspicious of a proposed transaction. The tellers call to us prevented the woman involved paying £5000 to a known bogus workman who we are now looking for.
If you see anything suspicious or want more information regarding doorstep crime contact police on 101.