Doorstep Crime and How to Avoid It, from Trading Standards: This is a major concern for Cumbrian residents. A survey of 1,100 Cumbrian residents in 2011 revealed that doorstep crime was in the top four of concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the region. The survey was carried out by police and was conducted among a citizens’ panel drawn up of people who had agreed to respond to the survey. To combat doorstep crime, Cumbria Trading Standards advise residents to say ‘No’ to doorstep callers. Here is how to recognise them and the measures being put in place to combat them.
Who commits doorstep crime? Cold callers can include rogue traders. Thanks to television series such as Watchdog and Britain’s Worst Builders, more is known about rogue traders and their methods. Rogue traders may be unqualified workmen who offer to make repairs to your property or carry out gardening jobs – often badly or at high cost. Doorstep criminals also include unannounced salespeople who cold call and use high pressure selling techniques, refusing to leave until they have an order from you.
There are also distraction burglars, often posing as officials from utilities companies. They may wear a fake uniform and carry fake identification cards to appear genuine and convincing. They tend to work in pairs and one of them will distract you and keep you busy whilst an accomplice looks for cash and valuables in your house.
How to recognise rogue traders: Rogue traders tend to target an area for a couple of days and then move out of that area to avoid the attention of police and Trading Standards. Their leaflets and flyers will generally contain only mobile telephone numbers and these can be difficult to trace once the trader has moved on. The caller may tell the householder that repairs are needed urgently and that structural damage may result if work is not done there and then. Householders can feel pressured into agreeing to have work done. They often target areas where older or more vulnerable residents live.
Rogue Traders may use these lines to persuade homeowners to do business with them: “You have loose tiles on your roof” - “Your roof has been leaking” - “You need some work doing on your driveway” - “I’m doing some work in the area and have materials left over which we need to use up” - “I’m doing some work for the council down the road”