Added 6:25pm, Saturday 26th April 2014: West Midlands Police confirmed to me on twitter that:
Police were called to Lichfield Road, Brownhills yesterday after an elderly couple had cash stolen by two bogus workmen.
If any more info appears, I’ll post it here – Bob
Yet again, the brilliant Shire Oak group on Facebook draws my attention to crime in the area; this time a distraction burglary in Shire Oak yesterday afternoon (Friday, 25th April 2014). Details are still a bit sketchy, and I’m hoping for a statement from West Midlands Police in due course which I’ll post here on receipt.
Please keep your eye out, look out for elderly neighbours and relatives, and don’t buy or accept services at the door. These people need to be caught, so if you have any information, please do speak to the police or Crimestoppers.
Rob May posted the following at 3:51pm yesterday (Friday, 25th April 2014):
Please be vigilant. There was an incident on Lichfield Road, Shire Oak this afternoon. A distraction burglary took place. This is where someone knocks on your door and either keeps you talking while another enters your house or they ask for something then follow you in.
Not sure of the exact house that was targeted, the police were knocking on neighbouring houses to inform them and to see if anyone saw anything. It had something to do with fence panels. They came back asking for more money after fitting a fence. The person went upstairs to get money, then they entered the house and took money and valuables. If you don’t know who the person is at the door, don’t let them in, or leave the front door open if you go upstairs, it only takes them seconds…
Walsall Council issued this excellent advice about distraction burglaries and doorstop criminals last year:
Don’t let your elderly neighbours or your grandparents be targeted by doorstep criminals
Walsall Trading Standards officers are urging young people to look after their grandparents and elderly loved ones by ensuring they are not ripped off by bogus callers.
Bogus callers and rogue traders target the elderly and trick their way into people’s homes to steal money and valuables while the householder’s attention is elsewhere. They can be people offering gardening, driveways and home maintenance work, TV aerial repairs as well as people falsely portraying themselves as water, gas or council officials who attempt to trick vulnerable people into letting them into their home.
In most types of crime, older people are less often the target than younger ones. but when it comes to distraction burglaries – callers who steal from people after distracting their attention – the trend is reversed and the average age of victims is 81.
Walsall Council’s Trading Standards officers and Walsall Police have set up a campaign to try and reduce the number of crimes committed on people’s doorsteps by rogue traders.
Councillor Zahid Ali, cabinet member for communities and partnerships at Walsall Council, said: ‘It can be very intimidating for vulnerable or elderly people and they can get pushed into handing over money to people. We want this to stop happening and we want people to help by keeping an eye on their elderly loved ones and neighbours to ensure they do not get targeted by doorstep criminals.
‘Please just remind your loved ones that if anyone knocks on your door they need to make sure they check their identification and if necessary contact the company in question. If in doubt, do not open the door,’ he added.
For more information or advice please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506,’ he added.
A Trader Register has been established to help Walsall residents find legitimate traders. Member traders commit to demonstrating fair and honest business practices. Although not an approval scheme, Walsall TraderRegister promotes reputable businesses in the building and home improvement sector and help residents to avoid falling victim to dodgy, rogue traders.
For details and to search for a reliable tradesperson please visit www.TraderRegister.org.uk/Walsall or telephone 01922 653040
Trading standards urge people to take the following steps to avoid becoming a victim;
- Never employ, buy from, or deal with cold callers and never pay people in cash on the doorstep. Remember that most reputable firms don’t have to go door-to-door to get their work!
- Never feel pressurised into buying items/work from doorstep callers.
- Never keep unnecessary amounts of money in the house.
- Improve your doorstep skills by proper use of a door bar or chain and proper checking of ID, if you don’t know who is at the door.
- Check the caller’s card and never be afraid to confirm details by making a phone call using a number found in the phone book or on a bill and NOT a number that the caller gives you to ring. Genuine callers from utilities/council etc. will have identity cards and will be happy to wait on the doorstep while the householder telephones to confirm they are who they say they are.
- Most utility services offer a password scheme and a phone number, which they can ring to check the identity of callers.
- Try only to deal with callers by appointment.
It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door and legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine.
Remember- if you suspect rogue traders are operating in your neighbourhood, we urge you to report them to Citizens Advice Consumer Service in confidence on 08454 040506.
You can also call the same number for further advice on dealing with cold callers.
Anyone who feels they may be in danger should ring 999 to contact the police.