Dorset Police, Trading Standards Officers and partner agencies are working together to tackle the national issue of doorstep crime, which affects vulnerable and elderly people across the county, in a countrywide week of action.
Wednesday 30 September was the UK’s national day of action, which involved representatives from Dorset’s authorities educating the public in how to avoid becoming of a victim of fraud at their door and how to report suspicious and criminal activity.
The day of action focused on Trading Standards and the Police speaking to traders who were working on houses and in gardens and also the householder.
Police Community Support Officers have been raising awareness of doorstep crime by attending banks, chemists and coffee mornings to educate residents on what cold calling is and how to avoid being conned.
Rogue traders knock on a person’s door and offer a service, but overcharge for poor craftsmanship or unnecessary or unfinished work.
Offenders appear very friendly and often deceive people into thinking they’re helping, by giving their victim a good deal and for pointing out work which needs fixing immediately.
The offenders offer services including; power washing driveways, cutting down trees and tending gardens and selling chainsaws and generators. They also carry out general building work including tarmacking in exchange for cash.
Police believe that criminals who carry out this type of fraud are doing so whilst travelling through the county, but there are also people who live in the area who try to con the elderly.
Dorset Police’s Crime Prevention Advisor, Debbie Oldfield, said: “We speak to lots of traders during Rogue Trader Week and throughout the rest of the year about their obligations to their customers, and we have found that they are very receptive to what we are doing.
“The majority of traders we interact with are legitimate, but we want to arm communities with knowledge about rogue traders and give them the power to say ‘no’ to unwanted callers.
“The purpose of the week of action is to highlight the wrongdoings of unscrupulous tradespeople to as many of the community as possible, by doing campaigning and taking positive action against those committing fraud.
“We want Dorset residents to be vigilant and not forced or coerced into commissioning work, even if people have been told it’s urgent, by the minority of traders who are committing fraud by mis-selling their product or services.”
Richard Herringshaw, Principle Trading Standards Officer at Dorset County Council added: “Our message is clear, just say “No thanks” to cold callers and support the more vulnerable members of the community.
“Rogue traders who cold call offering home maintenance or gardening are often linked to the activities of distraction burglars.
“All of the evidence shows that it is the elderly and vulnerable who are deliberately targeted by this crime.”
Ms Oldfield continues: “If someone calls you unexpectedly asking for your bank details – again, say ‘no thank you’, put the phone down, dial 1471 and write down the number. Call the police immediately on 101.
“If you have already bought services and goods at the door and you are not satisfied, call Citizens Advice on 03454 040506. They will be able to give you advice and report the matter to Trading Standards on your behalf.
“We ask friends, family members and neighbours to be aware that these types of scams are happening and to look out for elderly or vulnerable people they know, especially if they are having work carried out at their property.
“By working together we can try and stop this sort of heinous crime.”
Officers from neighbourhood policing teams including; Weymouth, Dorchester, Christchurch, Wimborne, Poole and Winton are working in collaboration with Trading Standards Officers to spread the message of ‘Be Sure Who’s At Your Door’.
Free door stickers are available from libraries across Dorset or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. To find a Trading Standards approved business and find reputable traders, visit the Buy With Confidence website.
If you know someone who is committing this crime or you want to report suspicious behaviour, please call Dorset Police on 101, to get advice and report it to Trading Standards call 03454 040506 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Crime prevention advice:
- Keep your doors locked, even if you’re in the premises, and put a chain on if you have one
- Don’t let anyone into your property that you don’t know
- Don’t accept work from people calling at your door, no matter how urgent they say the work is
- Never go to the bank with someone you don’t know or trust
- Call the police on 101 if you think you have been a victim of a crime or you see any suspicious behaviour