Belfast Telegraph

PSNI warns bogus caller threat is set to increase

by Natalie Gorman

Homeowners have been warned to be alert to unexpected callers as the forecasted good weather increases the number of reasons rogue traders and bogus callers can give to gain entry to your property.

Yesterday, Wednesday April 13, Castlereagh police renewed their campaign to raise awareness in the community.

Area commander Inspector Derek Martin told the Community Telegraph: “Bogus callers depend on the good nature and good will of others. They tend to target the more vulnerable members of our society and in particular, older members of our community. It is always advisable to be cautious of unexpected callers.”

Inspector Martin said bogus callers will use all sorts of tactics.

He added: “In one particular incident in, two men called at the home of a senior citizen and said they wanted to check her electricity meter. When they left, the woman’s handbag was missing.

“It’s believed the culprits made off in a Volkswagen Caddy van.

“If you are thinking of having work done at home, do not act on the spur of the moment because someone has called to your door.

Consider your options and get quotes from other companies with a good reputation and history.

“There is no foolproof way of recognising rogue workmen, however, in the past, many reported incidents have involved callers offering to tarmac driveways, gardening work, or power-washing roofs and driveways. Such workmen normally do not carry identification, are reluctant to give an estimate in writing and will normally ask for cash, which should set the alarm bells ringing straight away.

“In another incident reported to us, a man knocked the door and asked the lady occupant if she wanted her hedge cut and was told no. He left but returned a short time later asking if she needed anything removed from her rear garden.

“He walked down the side of the house and spoke with the victim in her rear garden. When the woman went back inside she noticed the front door open and approximately £100 cash and a bank card missing from her purse.”

Inspector Martin added: “If you have a peep hole or door security chain, use it. Always ask for ID. These individuals will sometimes offer a brief glimpse of an identity card in the hope this will suffice. Don’t be fooled. Ask to see the card properly. If it's in a card holder, ask that they remove it so that you can examine it closely. And always check that the photograph matches the person on the doorstep.

“Neighbours can also play a part in helping protect the more vulnerable in their community. Residents should try to look out for one another and report suspicious activity. The non-emergency police number is 0845 600 8000. In an emergency dial 999.”

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