This month, Sgt David Lonsdale helps you get to grips with distraction burglary in your area. A distraction burglar is someone who gains access to your property by distracting or tricking their way in to steal cash or valuables. This could include people who are trying to sell items on your doorstep or those who claim to be representing a company or charity in order to gain entry and steal items whist the occupants are distracted.
When someone calls at your door follow these simple steps to help protect yourself and your home.
• Keep your front and back doors locked at all times, even when at home.
• Before you answer the door, stop and think if you are expecting anyone and ensure that no rear/side doors and windows have been left unsecured. It may be that the caller is trying to distract you while someone else sneaks in.
• If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first and keep it on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep. Some bogus callers call on older and vulnerable people saying they need help urgently. They may ask you to help them outside the house or ask to come in to make a phone call or have a glass of water. Only go to help them if you have someone else with you. Don’t worry if you choose not to help, it is not rude or unfriendly.
• If someone who looks official calls at your door, always ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if they have a prearranged appointment (all genuine callers will carry one). Do they look like the person on the card? Is the name the same one as that on your letter? Close the door while you do this. If you are not expecting them and they have not shown you an identity card, do not let them in until you have checked that the caller is genuine. If you are going to ring the company the caller claims to be from, don’t rely on a number provided by them, you could be ringing an accomplice sat in the van outside – you can normally find a contact number on your utility bill or from the telephone directory.
• If you think the caller is genuine, but you would rather have a friend or relative with you, ask the caller to rearrange to a time when you are not on your own. Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out. Never pay cash up front and never go to the bank or cash point with a trader.
Doorstep crime isn’t common, but it can have a long-lasting impact on victims’ lives. Remember if you’re not sure of a caller, don’t open the door – but do give us a ring. You can call us on 101 but please always call 999 in an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress.