From West Mercia Police
DISTRACTION BURGLARY AND BOGUS CALLERS
Burglars won’t go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock and be invited in. So always be on your guard when anyone you’re not expecting – a man, a woman or even a child – turns up at your door.
Bogus ‘officials’ may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, gas board, health authority or other organisation. Bogus ‘dealers’ may offer to buy your antiques, furniture or jewellery, at what seems to be a good price.
If you want to sell something, choose one or two genuine dealers to value it or ask a friend or relative for their advice.
Bogus ‘workmen’ may say that they need to come in to check something or make urgent repairs. You also need to be careful of callers who offer to make building repairs or tarmac your drive. Often they’ll ask for money in advance; they may even offer to drive you to the bank to withdraw money to pay them.
If you need any building work done, get several written quotes from reputable firms, then decide which one is best. If in doubt, talk it through with a neighbour or someone in your family.
Genuine callers will normally make an appointment first and will carry identification with their photograph on.
ALWAYS PUT THE CHAIN ON
If someone calls at your door:
• Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
• Always put the chain on before you open the door. (If you don’t have a chain it’s a good idea to get one – they don’t cost much)
• With PVC doors, it can be difficult and costly to fit a door chain. Check with the manufacturer before you buy a PVC door, that a chain will be fitted.
• FIRE SAFETY – only put on your door chain as you answer the door – don’t keep it on all the time as this could delay your exit in case of fire.
• Look at their clothing. Some official callers will have a uniform bearing their organisation’s name or symbol.
• If you don’t know the caller, ask to see their identity card. Check it carefully, and keep the chain on while you do this. Genuine callers won’t mind if you close the door while you do this.
• Some public utility services (e.g. water, electricity, gas) operate a password system. Contact your local branch to find out more.
• If you’re still not sure, ask the caller to come back later. You can then check their story by phoning the organisation or company they claim to represent. Look up the number in your own telephone directory. Don’t rely on the telephone number on their card – it may be the number of a crook’s partner.
• Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property. The best practice is not to let them in.
• Ensure your back door is locked if you are answering the door to someone you don’t know.
• Watch out for anyone who says they’re in a hurry. Don’t let them pressure you. If in doubt, call a neighbour or friend.
• If you have any suspicions at all, don’t let them in.
• If you’re still not happy, phone the police – dial 101 and tell them what’s happened or if you think a crime is in progress 999. Also tell your neighbours.
Always put the chain on and use the spy-hole before you open the door.
Never let anyone in unless you are absolutely sure they are genuine.
Police forces have become aware of a fraud circulating targeting elderly and vulnerable members of the community. Some older people have received telephone calls from a Caller who purports to be from the GP surgery and is asking for an appointment to discuss the person’s mobility needs. During the appointment, the older person is persuaded to buy mobility aids which are either unnecessary or inappropriate and always expensive. If you receive a call like this, please check with your GP surgery first before agreeing to a visit.
Cold mornings – Don’t give car thieves an easv ride!
Although vehicle crime is low across West Mercia, every winter the force receives a number of reports from drivers who have had their cars stolen after leaving the engine running, while they wait in the warmth of their home for it to heat up and defrost the windscreen.
Some vehicle owners nip inside forjust a few seconds to collect a bag or finish the last mouthful of their breakfast coffee – but that’s all the time an opportunist thief needs.
To ‘freeze out‘ the thieves, West Mercia Police advises motorists to:
Clear windscreens with de-icer and a scraper
Sit in vehicles while the heater de-mists the windscreen
Drivers who ignore this advice are taking big risks. Thieves will drive around residential areas looking for likely targets. When they spot a vehicle with its engine left running on a drive or outside a home, it’s there for the taking.
One person will be dropped off, get into the target vehicle and simply drive away.
Many of the vehicles are never recovered, and some – especially high value models such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi- may be shipped overseas. It is also worth remembering if your car is stolen when keys have been left in it, you may find your insurance will not cover you. If your house keys are stolen along with your car, your home is then vulnerable too. So, this winter, don’t give criminals an easy ride by leaving your car running unattended.
February 2016 Issue of Parish Magazine
Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary organisation in the country and is playing an increasingly important role in helping to reduce crime and the fear of crime. The objective of Neighbourhood Watch is to promote public participation in the development of a safer and healthier environment and some of the responsibilities rest with the community, but an active partnership with the police is essential.
We are part of the Teme Valley Central Area Neighbourhood Watch Association and the coordinators meet regularly to discuss problems and opportunities, and to liaise with the police. It is important that you make your voice heard if you have any concerns or suggestions, so please contact your coordinator or Sarah Beard.