South Yorkshire Police Warn Of Doorstep Criminals

CRIME: Crime scene.
CRIME: Crime scene.

There has been nowhere to hide this week for doorstep criminals as South Yorkshire Police showed its support for national Operation Rogue Trader week.

Three coordinated days of action by police, Trading Standards, HM Revenue, VOSA and other agencies involved a mix of targeted action and crime prevention advice, and the results are now in.

There were 23 arrests made across the days of action – eight in Rotherham, eight in Sheffield, six in Doncaster and one in Barnsley. A further 11 people were reported on summons to court.

Over 1,100 addresses were visited with officers giving advice about deterring doorstep criminals, distributing rogue trader packs and checking properties to see if they were insecure.

Stop sites were set up in key locations with police and other agencies making sure motorists were not using the road network for criminal gain.

There were 598 vehicles stopped from Monday to Wednesday this week, leading to 35 vehicles being seized – many for having no insurance – and 106 fixed penalty notices being issued for more minor offences e.g. not using a seat belt, illegal tyres.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Robinson, South Yorkshire Police lead for doorstep crime, said: “This week’s operation was aimed at targeting rogue traders, bogus officials, pedlars and those claiming benefits while working. The legitimate traders we spoke to were pleased, because rogue traders take away their trade and give them a bad reputation.

“We know that rogue traders prey on the vulnerable and elderly so residents need to be extra vigilant and report suspicious vehicles or people calling at their homes unannounced. The message is simple – if you’re not sure, don’t open the door.”

Officers in Doncaster used part of their local patrols to check for vulnerable vehicles with 120 found with items on show that could tempt would-be thieves. Trading Standards officers in Doncaster responded to four doorstep incidents and seized three bags of tools from a rogue trader.

A number of second hand shops were visited in Sheffield and officers managed to recover a sat nav from a burglary in March. The police cadets were also active in Totley where they delivered 100 advice leaflets to local residents.

Over in Barnsley there were crime prevention stalls in the town centre with over 120 people given crime advice.

Be cautious of anyone who turns up on your doorstep without an appointment, whether they are trades people, salespeople or those claiming to be from a utility company or even the police. Here are SYP’s top tips to stop you becoming a victim of doorstep crime:

If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.

Always check a callers identity, ask for an identity card and look up the organisation to check the caller is genuine. Don’t use the number on their card.

Use the utility password scheme. Many service providers provide password schemes, so sign up to these by contacting your service provider.

Don’t hand over a cash deposit. Avoid handing over money before work is started. A reliable trader will never ask you to do this (even if they need materials). Never agree to go with a trader to the bank to take money out.

Don’t sign anything on the spot. Don’t feel pressured to agree there and then – if you are interested in what they are selling, you can ask them to come back at another time.

Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home. Don’t get taken in by sales banter or high pressure selling techniques. Don’t be hurried into a decision, even if there is a discount.

Read the small print. Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights.

Double check the facts. Make sure you fully understand the total costs of the transaction – including estimates, delivery and installation and the arrangements for after-sales servicing, such as the guarantees or warranties.

It’s OK to say no! Remember it’s your doorstep and your decision. If you feel pressured for any reason ask the person to leave.

Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

To report any suspicious behaviour or activity call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also report any dubious traders to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. If life is at risk or a crime is happening call 999.