POLICE are warning people to be on the look out for bogus officials after a pensioner was targeted in Preston.
The woman, aged in her 90s. was approached in the Ashton area of the city after she returned home from the shop. It happened at about 6.45 on Sunday (May 10th)
The man said he had been sent by the police with an update on a previous incident so she let him into her house only later to find her purse had been stolen.
An investigation is underway to find him and officers are warning others to be vigilant.
Insp Chris Barton, of Preston Police, said: “This is a despicable crime committed against an elderly and vulnerable lady and we will do all we can to track down this callous offender.
“I would urge people to be vigilant and to take some simple steps to try to avoid becoming a victim.
“A bogus caller may call uninvited to your home with the intention of tricking you into letting them in so that they can steal from you.
“A rogue trader may advise you that you need work doing on your roof, driveway or other part of your home. They may even say that your property is dangerous and that you will be responsible if someone is injured. The work they do can be poor standard and prices are often inflated.
“Older adults in particular are at risk but anyone can become a victim.”
Police have advice so people can try to protect themselves:
STOP - Before you answer the door, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Make sure your back door and any other doors leading outside are locked before you go to the front door. If you feel uncomfortable don’t answer the door and lock it.
CHAIN - Open the door with the chain or door bar in place. These act as a barrier when talking to unexpected callers. Talk through a window if you can.
CHECK - Always ask for ID. Genuine callers will always have identification. If you are still uncertain, phone the organisation and confirm the person’s identity. Genuine callers will be happy to wait.
If you are not expecting a visitor, do not know who is at the door, have any doubt or feel uncomfortable DO NOT open the door.
Some companies also have password protection schemes where they will supply you with a password that only you and the caller will know.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are proven to reduce burglary and deter bogus callers. Sign up to In The Know our free local messaging scheme or to join your local watch scheme contact your local Watch Liaison Officer.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud, a national agency who record and investigate reports of all types of fraud.
For general advice you can call Citizens Advice on 03454040506.
How to protect yourself from doorstep crime:
- Never agree to have any work done as a result of a cold call. Don't make snap decisions and don't be pressurised into having the job done.
- If you think work needs doing to your home, get written quotes from two or three traders, detailing the work to be done and a final price. Never rely solely on a mobile phone number.
- Ask friends and relatives to recommend a reputable business.
- Only pay in full once the work is completed to your satisfaction. You may be asked to pay money up front for trader's materials, ensure this only covers the cost of those materials never pay the full amount in advance.
- Check the identity of all callers to your home. Ask for photo identification even if the caller claims to be from a utility company, the police or local authority. Check it carefully with the telephone number in the phone book, not the number on the ID. All genuine officials are issued with identification that they carry with them. If you are worried, do not answer the door.
- Do not keep large amounts of money in your home no matter how well you think it is hidden. Volunteering to pay large amounts in cash may be an indication that you may have more cash on the premises.
The Safe Trader Scheme aims to help people in Lancashire find traders for property repairs, home improvements and domestic services such as cleaning and laundry. Traders have to pay £99 +VAT to become part of the scheme.
Home Improvement Agencies in Lancashire provide impartial help, advice and support on all aspects of home improvements, adaptations, repairs and maintenance works to your homes.
For more information on how to keep yourself and your property safe please visit https://www.lancashire.police.uk/help-advice/