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Cracking Crime

Doorstep Thieves

Image of someone trying the handle on a doorCriminals will not go to the trouble of breaking into your home if they can just knock and be invited in.

People assume that doorstep thieves only prey on the elderly, but anyone can be a victim.

Bogus callers come in many shapes and sizes. They could be children, pregnant women, men in overalls, etc. It is worth getting into the habit of taking a few extra seconds to check every caller at the door properly. Let's take a look at some of the bogus visitors you may come across.

Bogus workmen may use a very good and insistent sales patter to get you to employ him there and then. Don't employ workmen who come to the door offering bargain prices for work they say you need done to your house. Spend another day or two getting estimates from other tradesmen and make sure that whoever you let into your home is trustworthy. Ask to see evidence that they are members of a trades federation or other organisation and to see examples of their work. Bogus dealers will try to buy items from your home, some of which you may think are worthless. They will offer you a fraction of its true value. Speak to other dealers if you do wish to sell it - you will almost certainly get more money for it.

Bogus officials are the most common of all bogus callers and are the easiest to deal with.

Officials from the Water Board never need to come into your home to check for a leak, even in an emergency. If, for any reason, they need access to you house, they will always send you a letter to make an appointment. Genuine meter readers from the Gas or Electricity companies will want you to check their identity before you let them in.

If you have difficulty reading identity cards, ring the number on your bill and ask to join the password scheme. Every time a meter reader calls, they will always give you the password you have arranged. If you are still worried about meter readers, ask the companies about having your meter moved on to an external wall so no-one needs to enter your home to take readings at all.

If a caller claiming to represent any other organisation asks to enter your home without an appointment, check their identity. Public Service Employees are required to show identity cards when they come to your home. Examine the card carefully as fake cards have been used. The card should have a photograph and the name of the organisation on it. If you are at all worried, ring the organisation to check the caller is genuine. Use the telephone number given in the phone book or on your utility bill, rather than the one printed on the identity card. A genuine caller won't mind waiting. Make sure that the number is genuine and always leave the door closed and locked until you are completely satisfied that it is safe to let them in. - Don't let people in until you are satisfied you know who they are and what they want. Check their story.

If you have a back door, always lock it before answering the front door. Some thieves work in pairs and one will keep you talking at the front door while the other tries to enter by the back door.

Don't let people in until you are satisfied you know who they are and what they want.  Check their story.

  • Keep the door locked while you use the phone to verify their story or ask them to call back later.
  • If you let some-one in - stay with them at all times
  • Never part with money, documents or other things whatever they say to you.
  • If you are suspicious - Phone the police!
  • Get more than one estimate for work
  • Official organisations usually write first - have you had a letter?
  • Check identification cards thoroughly.
  • Don't let callers bully you into letting them in.
  • If in doubt - Keep Them Out