Local police chief urges public to be aware of cold callers

WHILE many of us welcome the better weather and longer days, unfortunately, our evidence indicates that this is the prime season for bogus callers.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector John Magill explains: “Most callers to your home are genuine, but a small minority are intent on criminal activity.

“Some callers plan on tricking their way into homes so that they can steal money or valuables. Others will offer to do work about the house or property, with the intention of charging exorbitant sums for what is often poor, unnecessary or downright dangerous work.

“The majority of reported incidents have involved callers offering to do garden work or house repairs. They normally do not carry ID, are reluctant to give an estimate in writing and will normally ask for cash. They rarely offer a receipt. Our advice is to never accept offers to do repair or cleaning work by people you do not know.

“Bogus callers are often well prepared and are practised in deception and can distract the victim so that an accomplice can enter the house unnoticed or use their call to check out the property and householder as a potential target. These callers often pose as employees of some official body like the Water Service, Housing Executive etc.”

When dealing with unexpected visitors, please follow this advice:

• Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise the caller.

• Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry a photographic identification card. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone Quick Check. Dial 0800 013 22 90 and the person on the other end will check the caller at your door is legitimate. The service is free and operates 24 hours a day. Genuine callers will not mind waiting until you have checked that they are who they say they are.

• Alternatively, if you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don’t let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return.

• Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere that may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice who is waiting to act upon this distraction.

Police would always advise that householders do not keep large sums of money in the house.

C/Insp Magill went on to appeal for the public to work with police to help identify and prevent these criminals from taking advantage:

“It’s really important that we are good neighbours and in particular watch out for older people in the community. If you see someone acting suspiciously, note down any important details such as a description or car registration and contact police immediately. This information could be key in preventing or solving a crime.

“We are doing our utmost to catch criminals who may be actively targeting older or vulnerable people, but we need the community’s help and co-operation to do so most effectively. Someone out there knows who is carrying out these cowardly crimes and can give us the information we need to bring these criminals to justice and help prevent further crime.”

If you feel you may have been a victim of such an incident or are aware of anyone who has fallen victim to such an incident, please contact your local police on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively information can be passed anonymously via the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111