Police advice over doorstep conmen

WOULD you know what tricks rogue traders use to con people out of money on their own doorsteps?

This summer, Norfolk Police and Norfolk Trading Standards will launch a campaign to raise awareness and help residents battle this devastating crime.

Det Sgt Pete Jessop, who leads the Operation RADAR team (Rogue traders And Distractions burglars And Rural crime), has asked residents for continued vigilance this spring and summer as the longer lighter days will undoubtedly lead to more rogue traders appearing in the county.

Talking about the campaign he said: “We have been in operation for three years and believe that we have built up enough intelligence and data to know who the majority of the rogue traders are from this county. It is this information that has and will continue to lead to arrests for rogue trader offences.”

He added: “Our time in operation has also allowed us to know the tricks and scams that these unscrupulous people will use. To help residents we have come up with a top 10 of likely things a rogue trader will say or do and it is this that we have decided to release to the public.

“This information should help you to continue to look after your elderly relatives, friends or neighbours and report any suspicious activity at their houses.”

The top 10 has been released after careful analysis of numerous situations and encounters that have arisen over past years and been reported to Norfolk Constabulary or Norfolk Trading Standards.

It is not an offence to knock on someone’s door and try to canvas or trade but this initial call can sometimes lead on to criminal offences. These offences can include distraction burglary or unnecessary home maintenance that is unwanted and both can cause occupants to lose a large quantity of money.

DS Jessop continued: “A rogue trader offence is as devastating to the victim as a distraction burglary is – there is embarrassment, shock and anger at realising you have been duped. However, I can reassure you that any incident or offence reported to us will be treated with the dignity and respect it deserves.

“There is definitely a trend and a routine that these people use when trying to get a householder to have work done. It can start off as an offer to do a small job which escalates, sometimes costing thousands of pounds. It can also be when the caller befriends a householder over a period of time offering to do work. Another clue to non genuine callers is if the work can be commenced straightaway - that in itself is a big giveaway.”

DS Jessop concluded by saying: “The easiest answer is to never deal with anyone on your doorstep. Display a ‘no cold calling’ sticker and politely use that to send the caller away. A genuine caller will come back by appointment when someone else can be there.”

Gary Young, Principal Trading Standards Officer from Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Service said: “To avoid cowboy builders and rogue traders we recommend householders using a trader from our Trusted Trader Scheme. All our Trusted Traders will meet a strict criteria and abide by a code of conduct. This includes giving written quotes and informing customers of their cancellation rights.

“You can view a range of traders and feedback from their customers on www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader or by calling 0344-800-8020.”

Here are the Top 10 false claims which may help you to recognise a rogue trader when they approach your door:

1) Faults have been identified that urgently need attention.

2) The work can start immediately. (In the majority of cases you do have the right to cancel within 7 days)

3) We have previously completed work on your house and have come back to finish off.

4) Will offer discounts for a variety of reasons: advert board outside house, cash, agrees to start work straightaway.

5) You are made to feel that you have lots in common with the ‘trader’.

6) Will start low on a fee for an insignificant job and increase pressure by ‘identifying’ another job that is urgent or necessary.

7) I used to work for a company that has been to the house before.

8) I have been recommended to attend your home from a neighbour (who turns out to be fictitious).

9) I have excess materials left over from a nearby job.

10) Householder being told that they owe money from a previous job at the house.