Police are investigating several recently reported distraction burglaries across H District (which incorporates Larne, Ballymena, Coleraine, Moyle and Ballymoney). The suspects involved have claimed to be from the ‘Water Board’, which doesn’t exist, in order to gain entry into a property.
NI Water has confirmed this would never be the case with a legitimate caller from the company. Any caller from NI Water will carry ID cards which will have a photo of that person, their name, a unique serial number and a logo.
Police are keen to reiterate safety messages to those who may be vulnerable to bogus callers.
Superintendent Brian Kee, H District Operations Manager, explains: “This is a particularly abhorrent crime where the suspect has taken advantage of the victims’ good will. It is, thankfully, a rare crime and the majority of callers to your home are genuine. While the crime prevention message is definitely getting out to many homeowners and callers identities are being challenged, the recent incidents prove that there are still some residents, in particular the more vulnerable members of our society, who are falling prey to this type of crime.
“Police will not shirk their responsibility in dealing with perpetrators of these crimes and are committed to tacking this issue robustly and proactively, targeting prolific offenders and coordinating an intelligence-led response across all regions focusing on these individuals.
“We are doing all we can in terms of catching the criminals behind these crimes. However we cannot prevent every incident before it occurs.
“There are simple steps to take to protect your home from bogus callers - ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradespeople 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. If you are not convinced by the identity of the caller, do not let them in and call police immediately.
“If you have elderly relatives, neighbours, or provide care for anyone who may fall prey to this type of crime, make them aware of these messages. Remember, the ‘Water Board’ does not exist, so please report any such callers. Police are always keen to hear from anyone who may have been approached at their home by a caller purporting to be from a legitimate company, or by anyone using an excuse to enter your home.”
If you would like advice on crime prevention and how to make your home safer, please contact your local crime prevention officer on 0845 600 8000.