Elderly warned to beware of conmen

Sgt Steve Dove of Bridlington Neighbourhood Policing Team

Sgt Steve Dove of Bridlington Neighbourhood Policing Team

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BRIDLINGTON’S elderly residents are being warned to be careful who they let into their homes.

It follows growing concerns by police about bogus callers who claim to be from a variety of companies, mainly utilities, who need to get into homes to check installations but their real purpose is to steal.

Although incidents have reduced at local and national level for the last six years they still happen and Bridlington, with its higher than average number of elderly people could be a prime target.

Sgt Steve Dove of Bridlington Neighbourhood Policing Team said the message was straightforward, never let anyone into your home who you don’t know or who doesn’t have a prior appointment.

“This kind of distraction burglary does happen in Bridlington. All I can ask people to do is be vigilant.

Never let people into your home you were not expecting or don’t know. These people will look for any excuse just to get inside the house. Claiming to be from water, gas or electricity services where the need to get inside seems plausible is a favourite tactic but we have had examples involving people offering loft insulation, even from alleged telephone companies. Others can knock on the door asking if they can use the toilet or even telephone,” said Sgt Dove.

The police say there are some straightforward steps people can take to ensure these offenders do not get allowed access to their homes but ultimately, the message is ‘Not sure? Don’t open the door’.

They also say family, friends and neighbours should also keep their eyes and ears open to help keep vulnerable people safe.

“Anyone who sees or hears of people calling at addresses, acting suspiciously, trying to access homes whilst claiming to be from a utility board, should report it to police as a matter of urgency,” said Sgt Dove (pictured, right).

The police have issued the following advice to stop people becoming victims of this kind of theft.

q LOCK, STOP, CHAIN and CHECK

When someone calls at your door and offers to do repairs to your home, asks for urgent help, or claims to be a company representative, follow these simple steps to help protect yourself and your home from bogus callers.

q LOCK: Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.

q STOP: Before you answer, stop to think if you are expecting anyone. Check the back door is locked and any keys are taken out. Look through the spy hole or the window to see who it is.

q CHAIN: If answering the door, keep the bar or chain on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep. (When the door is shut and locked, leave the bar or chain off in case of an emergency.)

Some bogus callers target older and vulnerable people saying they need help urgently. They may ask you to help them outside the house or ask to use a phone or request a drink. Only offer to help if you have someone with you. Don’t worry if you choose not to help it is not rude or unfriendly.

q CHECK: If someone who looks official calls at your door, always ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if they have an appointment. Do they look like the person on the card? Do their details match any prior correspondence? Close the door while you do this. If you are not expecting them and they don’t show you an identity card, do not let them in until you have double-checked their validity.

Finally, if in doubt ring the company they claim to be from. Genuine callers will suggest you do this and will be supportive of this action.