February 28, 2009
Home Security - Spring 2009
An article by Lincolnshire Trading Standards
Distraction Burglary and Bogus callers
Distraction burglary has a disproportionate and long lasting effect upon its victims who are more often than not the older and more vulnerable members of society. Although most older people will never encounter it, their fear of it remains unacceptably high.
Not all burglars break into your home, some will try to trick or con their way in instead. So always be vigilant when anyone you're not expecting - a man, a woman or even a child - turns up at your door.
Known as distraction burglars or bogus callers, these people will try to mislead you or distract your attention in an attempt to get into your home and steal your money or valuables. They will often work in pairs although you will usually only see one. The other is usually out of sight or sitting in a vehicle somewhere nearby. They use different tactics to distract.
They may try to involve you in running water taps, measuring rooms, looking at gardens or roofs, anything to get you away from the door for enough time to allow their accomplice to enter your home and search for cash and valuables. They will also leave things neat and tidy, so it may be hours if not longer before you may realise something has gone.They can be convincing and persuasive.
Bogus 'officials' may look the part and claim to be from the council, gas, electricity or water board, health authority or other organisations. They will often use fake identification passes giving telephone numbers which may seem genuine but in actual fact will probably be the number of their accomplice in the van around the corner.
Bogus 'workmen' or 'Rogue traders' purport to be trades-people, offering repairs, services and maintenance to homes and gardens. They will often carry out inferior work (sometimes no work at all) and charge exorbitant fees. They place extreme pressure on vulnerable people to obtain monies and sometimes accompany people to banks and building societies to withdraw cash. They do not accept cheques as these can be traced. These offences can be difficult to prove as the offender hides behind the defence of providing a service which they consider to be at a justifiable price. This can be challenged of course and often is, but it requires the involvement of qualified surveyors, trading standards, police or other experts.
They might try to persuade you that the tiles on the roof are dangerous and could fall off causing injury to someone who could sue. This is known as using the 'Fear factor'. They might try the one about having some spare tiles or tarmac left over from a local job and you can have them cheap if you want. However they will fail to mention that their labour costs will run into hundreds if not thousands of pounds. They will not give cancellation rights or written guarantees.
If you need building work done, get several quotes from reputable firms before deciding which one is best.
Bogus 'dealers' may offer to buy your antiques, furniture or jewellery, at what seems a good price but could actually be a lot less than the item is worth, once again seek out reputable buyers and get several quotes before making a decision.
If someone, who is unknown to you, knocks at your door, please follow these simple rules.
- Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting someone.
- Check your back door is locked and take out the key.
- Look through the spy hole or window and see who it is.
- If you decide to open the door. PUT THE CHAIN ON FIRST
- Ask politely who they are and what it is they want
- If you feel they are genuine, ask for identification and check it carefully. Do not assume any telephone numbers are genuine and tell them you are going to close the door whilst you check their details.
You can do this in 3 ways
- Check the number in the phone book against the one they have given you.
- Phone Directory enquiries
- If they say they are from one of the utility companies check the number against an old electric, water or gas bill.
If they behave in a threatening manner or you feel uncomfortable, close the door and lock it and telephone the police immediately.
Lincolnshire Doorstep Crime