Published: November 3, 2011
Bogus doorstep callers warning issued to Burnham residents

Police have this week warned residents across the Burnham-On-Sea area to beware of bogus callers.

Recently there have been a number of reported distraction burglaries where criminals have gained access to people's homes by pretending to be from a water company or using children to distract the homeowner by claiming they've lost a ball in their garden.

Over the past month, money has been stolen from homes after residents have answered the door to a young person stating they had lost their ball in the victim's garden. While the victim was distracted, a second person entered the houses and stole property.

There were also offences reported to police across the force area where bogus 'Water Board' and fake Dyno-rod officials have tricked their way into homes before stealing cash, purses and wallets.

.Police tips for avoiding doorstep crime

• Always make sure visitors to your home are who they say they are by asking to see their identification.

• Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller, as they may be bogus. Always use a number from your utility bill or a phone book.

• 'Water boards' no longer exist, it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus callers.

• Ensure that if you do let somebody in to your home, that you close the door behind them - distraction burglars often work in teams, where one will distract you while another sneaks in through the insecure door.

• Always close and lock your back door before answering the front door.

Superintendent Trevor Margenout, who leads Avon and Somerset's fight against doorstep criminals, said: "Offenders have been knocking on doors, unfortunately targeting elderly and more vulnerable people, and claiming they are fixing water leaks and burst pipes in the road."

"A common theme in these offences is that victims are being told either that there has been an explosion nearby and the water needs to be turned off or that there is blue dye in the water, and they need the victim to run the kitchen taps to check the system."

"If someone knocks on your door and you hear these things, alarm bells should start ringing. There is no longer a water board – it is a term used only by bogus callers. Water companies also never put dye into the water."

He added: "Since the formation of the Bristol Doorstep Crime Team and Avon and Somerset's work to tackle doorstep crime with the national Operation Liberal, we have reduced distraction burglaries and rogue trading offences by more than 50% across the force."

"In turn there has been a substantial increase in the number of crimes being detected with more offenders being identified and locked up than ever before."

"Be wary of unknown, unscheduled callers – just because they have a plastic ID card and a boiler suit it does not make them genuine. A genuine official will understand and will happily make a future appointment or provide credentials to confirm their identity."

If you believe that you have seen or been visited by these offenders then please report it to the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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