Police crackdown on doorstep criminals in day of action against rogue traders

Merseyside Police has teamed up with partners to take part in the 10th year of Operation Rogue Trader, a week of action to tackle doorstep criminals, including rogue traders, loan sharks and distraction burglars.
Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques, with the work carried out often being overly expensive, sub-standard and not required. Distraction burglars gain access to property by distracting or tricking their way into houses to steal valuable or cash. Both offences often target vulnerable and elderly home owners.

On Wednesday 13 April, a day of action took place whereby officers across the force, working with Trading Standards, the Department of Work and Pensions, Environment Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA, the DVSA, Border Force, Health & Safety Executive, Land Registry, National Benefit Fraud Office, Local Council Environmental Health Departments and Scambusters carried out a number of crime prevention and law enforcement activities in Merseyside to catch those responsible for this type of crime and offer reassurance to local residents.

The activities were part of a week-long crime prevention initiative, Operation Rogue Trader, and ranged from executing warrants, identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.

Officers, working alongside staff from the DVLA and VOSA, have carried out roadside checks in every area of Merseyside targeting commercial vehicles.

Officers have also been out and about all over Merseyside, going out and speaking to vulnerable people about keeping their homes and belongings safe and also giving advice about people who cold call at residents’ homes.

The last Operation Rogue Trader in September 2015 saw 121 people arrested nationally, with over £3million worth of property recovered and over 2,000 offences were identified.

Chief Superintendent Peter Costello, head of Local Policing in Merseyside, said: “Distraction burglars, loan sharks and rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable members of society and often leave a profound and lasting impact on their victims.

“Although victims are often left feeling embarrassed by this deception and reluctant to report incidents to police, I can assure them we will thoroughly investigate all reports.

“Elderly people, their relatives and friends should always be wary of callers to their address offering any kind of service, however official they may appear. Identification should always be asked for and produced and, if necessary, contact made with the company they claim to work for to verify identities.”

There are a number of steps everyone can take to help prevent this type of crime and they include:

Do not open your door if you are unsure who the caller is. Always make sure you know who visitors are by asking to see their identification. Never let people into your property if you don’t know them
Always keep the key chain on the door whilst talking to callers and always check their ID before letting them into your home. Genuine callers won’t mind you doing this. If callers haven’t got valid identification, don’t let them in
Bogus callers often pretend to be someone official, for example, from a utility company or the water board. They will also try to distract people by asking for a drink of water or if they can use the toilet. Remember “if in doubt, keep them out”
Remember to close and lock the back door before you answer the front door. It’s a good idea to have a viewer or spy hole and a stout chain fitted to all the external doors to the property
Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home. It’s better in the bank where it’s safe
If someone asks for your help (for example, if they want to make a telephone call or claim to have lost a ball in your garden) always ask a friend or neighbour, or someone else you trust, for help

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any doorstep offender or rogue trader should ring 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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