Police issue warning as door-step gangs target people in their homes
Police forces across the country have been issuing alerts after a wave of crimes involving gangs of men who claim to be selling cleaning products but actually are scoping out the victims house in preparation for a burglary at a later date.
The scam often involves sellers - also known as Nottingham Knockers - who claim to be a reformed convict trying to make a new life for themselves or to be deaf or dumb and in need of cash to pay for their carer.
The crooks go between houses appearing to offer a range of cleaning products but are secretly checking how much cash may be in the house, whether the home is occupied or empty at certain times, how valuable the belongings are and how well protected the house is.
A few days or weeks later, a different member of the gang returns to burgle the house using the intelligence gathered by the initial doorstep trader. Some scammers reportedly even sniff the bank notes they are paid with to judge whether they may have come from a larger wad of cash being stored somewhere in the house.
So-named because the original scammers hailed from Nottingham and would come knocking door-to-door to trade their wares, the scam has spread across the country, sparking a number of police alerts.
Forces across the country have issued warnings to vulnerable residents, especially the elderly, to be on their guard.
In some cases doorstep hawkers have forced their way inside a property after being told to go away.
Those who do pay up risk being added to a list of willing customers and are then targeted by other street sellers.