There have been several incidents locally in the last couple of weekss where elderly people have had money stolen by bogus callers, or have been conned out of cash by people posing as workers.
In one case reported this week, an elderly resident who clearly had her wits about her turned away a caller claiming to be there to inspect her new boiler. Since she had had no work done, this was clearly a ruse to enter her home. Thankfully, she shut the door on him.
Local police have been notified of the incident.
I feel then that this warning from West Midlands Police is timely – please care it with anyone you know who’s vulnerable: The elderly, frail or less able.
Let’s look out for our neighbours. West Midlands Police wrote:
Not all burglars break in. Some will talk their way in.
Commonly known as bogus callers or distraction burglars, these crooks will pose as someone they’re not; perhaps a police officer, council or ‘water board’ worker, or perhaps they’ll pose as a builder or gardener. Whatever their story, they have only one aim: to get into your home so that they or an accomplice can steal money or belongings. Their targets are usually the elderly or the most vulnerable who are more likely to believe their story and let them in. These doorstep criminals are cunning, creative, and often very convincing.
So what can you do?
• Firstly, stop!
Be on your guard if someone turns up unexpectedly. Genuine callers will make appointments first.
• Then, chain!
If you have a door chain, put it on before opening the door, and keep it on while talking to the caller. If you don’t have a door chain, look at getting one fitted.
• Next, check!
Ask for ID from anyone who comes to your door, whether you expect them or not. Genuine callers will carry company photo ID and show it when you ask. If the caller is unexpected, ring their office to confirm their identity. Don’t use the number on their ID card, look it up in the telephone directory or a recent bill. Genuine callers won’t mind waiting. Don’t assume someone is genuine just because they are wearing a uniform or high-vis jacket.
If you have any doubts, tell the caller to come back when someone else is home. Genuine callers won’t mind rearranging. You can tell callers to contact you by letter to arrange a more convenient time. Only let callers in if they have an appointment, and you are absolutely sure they are genuine.
If you are suspicious of a caller, or feel threatened, call the police immediately on 999.
Watch out for suspicious characters in your street, especially if you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours. Try to take a note of vehicle details and registration numbers, and descriptions of anyone involved. Contact us with your information via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am to midnight, call 101 anytime or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Please tell your relatives and neighbours about these scammers, and impress upon them how important it is not to be menaced into giving money for services at the door, no matter how plausible the people demanding cash are.. Genuine companies will always contact you by other means.
Scumbags preying on the elderly and vulnerable are lower than a snake’s knees.
Please, if you have any further information relating to any such incident, or if you’ve witnessed something suspicious, please contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.