“I’d never heard of distraction burglary before, until one day a chap called at my house saying he needed to turn my water off as there was a leak down the road. There wasn’t a leak, he was a distraction burglar trying to lie his way in.”
So says a potential victim of doorstep crime.
Distraction burglary is where criminals call at your house posing as officials or asking for help with something.
They make up a story to get into your home, generally targeting older people, and they have just one real intention – to steal.
Some work alone, but often they work in groups of two or more, usually one will knock at your door with a convincing excuse that seems genuine and urgent. The talker will persuade you to let them in and keep you occupied while the second sneaks in and searches your house for cash and valuables.
They can be men, women or even children (or a combination), smartly or casually dressed.
But a genuine caller will happily wait outside while you check on them behind locked doors by calling their organisation or a family member or neighbour.
Although the numbers of distraction burglaries is nowhere near the number of other crimes, every police force takes this crime very seriously.
If you suspect a bogus caller is at your door, the answer is simple.
Call 999, the police are never too busy to attend even if it turns out to be a false alarm.
Rogue traders are out of the same mould. They call at your door and offer to do work on your home or garden that is unnecessary or is vastly over priced. Don’t ever go to a bank or cash point with a trader (legitimate workmen would never do this) and don’t allow anyone to pressure you into having work carried out.
Ask them to leave and if they don’t call 999.
Never agree to work or sign anything on the spot.
Common lies that distraction burglars use: “I’m from the Water Board, there’s a leak down the road and I need to check your water supply”.
This is never true. Tell them to go away and your going to call the police.
“I need to read your meter” Check with your utility company before you let them in. Call your electricity, gas or water company (note: not Board!) direct using the number from a recent bill or telephone directory.
“We are the police, we’ve caught a burglar and think he has stolen your cash so we need to check that everything is safe”.
Genuine police offers NEVER do this. Some burglars break into your home and on discovery say they’re the police looking for a burglar. Call the police on 999 straight away.
Useful numbers: Victim Supportline 0845 3030 900, Age UK 0800 169 6565 or Consumer Direct 08454 040506 if you need advice about a trader.
Information Issued by The Home Office and Wolverhampton Police.