Can I bring to your attention that between Monday 22 and Friday 26 May 2017, Police Scotland will be once again running our annual doorstep crime campaign, Operation Monarda
As part of the operation the Crime Reduction Unit in Aberdeen will be manning stalls between 10.00am and 1.00pm with partners at
- B&Q, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, on Wednesday 24 May and
- the Royal Bank of Scotland, St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen, on Friday 26 Mayto hand out information and answer questions about what doorstep crime is and how to protect yourself, yourfriends and family (especially elderly relatives) from becoming victims. If you’ve got the time, please comalong. If you can’t manage, but still have a query, please feel free to call us on the Police Scotland non-emergency number of 101 to ask your questions or look on the Police Scotland website on the ‘Keep Safe’ tab.
The Crime Reduction Unit will also be contacting all banks and Post Office branches in Aberdeen, to ask staff there to be mindful of customers who ask to withdraw large sums of cash, especially if they’re accompanied by someone else and are looking ill-at-ease. This is because in the past older people have been taken by these scammers to withdraw money to settle bills for ‘work’ done. It is an excellent opportunity for staff to speak to customers in private, to confirm that the withdrawal is bona fide, and to call the Police if it isn’t.
The impact of doorstep crime on its victims should not be underestimated and can leave people feeling vulnerable, embarrassed and isolated for months and years afterwards.
In a nutshell, Bogus Callers are individuals who try to gain entry to peoples’ homes usually on the following pretexts:
that they work for organisations such as the Council, Scottish Water, Scottish Power, British Gas, Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) and they urgently need access to the house. These people may use ID cards, fluorescent jackets, clipboards and the like to bolster their credibility, or
- that their car has overheated just round the corner (out of sight) and they need some water to put into the radiator, or
- that they need to take prescribed medication but need a glass of water to get the tablets down.These criminals may even work in pairs but ultimately their aim is to get into the victim’s home, to steal from them.
We would like to advise householders, especially the elderly, infirm or otherwise vulnerable, that if you have any doubts about any unexpected caller at your door DON’T LET THEM IN. Genuine representatives are trained and experienced enough to expect caution from householders. Instead, confirm the caller’s name, company and the nature of their business and ask to borrow any ID card being worn by them.
Then, be polite and lock the front door, leaving the caller outside; inspect the ID card for quality of manufacture, use the Yellow Pages to get a company phone number to confirm that the company has workmen in your area. Do not rely on the information contained on the ID card as this may be fake. If still not satisfied, the next phone call should be to a friend or neighbour or to the Police. If satisfied, the caller can be allowed to enter, but the door should still be locked after they’ve been let in, and on the way out again!
It is often helpful, if a company’s agent need access to the house to read the meter or something similar, to call the company well beforehand and ask them to write to you in advance with times and dates that their agent will call and to agree a password, so when the workmen calls you can have greater confidence that they are bona fide.
On the matter of Rogue Traders, these are ‘workmen’ who cold-call at a house, often pointing out an apparently worrying or dangerous ‘situation’ such as an overhanging tree branch or damaged roof which needs urgent attention and it just so happens they can help. If allowed to give an estimate for the work, these rogues will sometimes cause the damage which they claim to have spotted, thereby justifying their presence. Another tactic these individuals use is to offer to do work such as tar a drive for a small sum, using spare materials left over from another job nearby. These people can also be very insistent and sometimes quite intimidating.
If any work is actually done it is often to a low standard and the original quote can escalate substantially. Often the reasons given for this increase were due to unforeseen problems or simply because the workman knows the householder is financially committed to getting the work completed. Their ultimate objective is to get as much of the householder’s money with as little effort as possible.
Our advice to householders is to remain firm but polite and DON’T EMPLOY THEM. If the workmen become insistent, DON’T GIVE THEM ANY MONEY – even to get them to go away – they will then realise that the householder is an easy target and will come back. Instead, ask for a few days to think about it (and don’t answer the door if they come back) or tell them that you were aware of the problem, that your son/son in law/brother is in that trade and that you had promised them the work and that in these times of austerity, family must come first. This is a very difficult approach for rogue traders to argue against when all they can argue on is cost.
Accept any cards, leaflets or other paperwork that may be offered, if possible note the colour, type and registration number of the vehicle they may be using and any company name on the side of the vehicle, then report it to Police or the Council’s Trading Standards department or both. If any work really does need done, again use a reliable source such as the Yellow Pages to engage a bona fide workman, preferably trade regulated.
It can also be helpful to use the Nominated Neighbour scheme which Police Scotland supports. Further details of this scheme can be obtained by phoning the Police Scotland non-emergency number of 101 and asking for your local Crime Reduction Office. This scheme allows a suitable friend or neighbour to act on a householder’s behalf when dealing with cold-callers.
As always, can I ask that everyone receiving these bulletins disseminate information to their friends, family and neighbours and to report any suspicious vehicles or suspicious persons in their communities to the Police?
If you would like security advice on how to keep your home or business more secure, please give the Crime Reduction Unit a call on the Police Scotland non-emergency number of 101 and we’d be only too pleased to help, or look on the Police Scotland website on the ‘Keep Safe’ tab.
Crime Reduction Unit
Crime Reduction Unit,
North East Division,
Nigg Police Office
230 Abbotswell Crescent, Nigg,