Doorstep crime

A friendly face and a warm smile is not always what it seems.


Who should you protect yourself against?

  • Doorstep crime is the name given to crimes carried out by bogus callers and rogue traders who call uninvited at YOUR home under the guise of legitimate business or trade. The phrase ‘doorstep crime’ includes distraction burglary, bogus callers, rogue traders and unscrupulous sales people.
  • Most people who knock on your door or ring your doorbell are genuine, but some are not. A friendly face and a warm smile is not always what it seems. Always be on your guard.
  • To combat doorstep crime the police work in partnership with Trading Standards.
  • The Home Office definition of distraction burglary is ‘Any crime where a falsehood, trick or distraction is used on an occupant of a dwelling to gain, or try to gain, access to the premises to commit burglary. It includes cases where the offender first enters the premises and subsequently uses distraction burglary methods in order to remain on the premises and/or gain access to other parts of the premises in order to commit burglary.’

Citizens advice

Who’s that knocking?

Bogus callers - These people may trick you into giving them money or your personal details.

Rogue traders - These people offer to do work for you, but then overcharge you for poor or incomplete work.

Aggressive sellers - In some cases aggressive selling is a criminal offence.

Distraction burglars - One person keeps you occupied at the front door while another persons goes around the back and enters your property without you knowing.

What can YOU do yourself to reduce the likelihood of it happening?

People that commit these types of offences may say they are from the water, gas or electric company or the local council. They may ask for a glass of water, or to wash their hands or claim to have lost a pet.  They will use ANY STORY to get into YOUR HOME.  They can be young (even children) or old, male or female, and might work alone or in teams. They often target the elderly and/or vulnerable.

YOU can KEEP THEM OUT if you have any doubt at all:

  • Lock – your doors and windows, even when you’re at home.
  • Stop – are you expecting anyone, do they have an appointment? Make sure the back door is locked – some thieves work in pairs with the other one sneaking in the back while you’re at the front door. 
  • Chain – put the door bar or chain on before you open the door. 
  • Check – check their identity carefully. Ask for an ID card.  Close the door and check using a phone number from the phone book or a relevant bill, not the one on the card.

If in doubt, keep them out (particularly if you’re on your own).  Ask them to make an appointment or come back later when someone else is around. Genuine callers won’t mind. If you are suspicious, report the incident to the police. You may help prevent them from burgling someone else.

More YOU can do:

  • Check the caller’s identity. Take your time. Don’t be rushed.
  • Always look up telephone numbers – don’t accept numbers provided by callers. They could be bogus.
  • Be wary if your caller asks you to do something such as fetch a ball (even if it’s a child) or check your gas, water or electricity. Shut and lock the front door first. Don’t leave it open.
  • Don’t agree to any repair work being done on the spot. Tell them you want to get a second opinion.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your home.
  • Keep credit cards out of sight and away from their pin numbers.
  • Join a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
  • Mark your property so it can be returned to you, if located, should you be unfortunate and suffer loss. 
  • Join our community messaging service so you are in touch with what is happening in your area.
  • Help others and pass this information on to vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours.

Where can you get more help and advice?

Working together to combat crime - Devon and Cornwall Police and Trading Standards have created the Devon and Cornwall Doorstep Crime Reduction Partnership to work together to tackle criminals that come to your door.

Remember - YOU can report anyone acting suspiciously to the police or if you want to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

  • Age UK has some relevant information and guidance on this subject so take a look.
  • Citizens Advice
    • for England call 03444 111 444 or check your local Citizens Advice contact details via the search box below
    • TextRelay users should call 03444 111 445
  • Citizens Advice - A consumer issue
    • To get information or advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
    • Textphone Dial 18001 followed by Citizens Advice consumer helpline number 03454 04 05 06
  • Trading Standards Institute is another enforcement agency and works closely with the police across Devon and Cornwall.

 

Contact

Crime Reduction Officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, Crime Reduction Dept
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter
Devon
EX2 7HQ

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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