Staffordshire Police is warning people to be on their guard against suspicious callers at the door following a bogus official type incident in Newcastle.
The families of the elderly and vulnerable are also being encouraged to warn their relatives against opening the door to such callers.
The advice comes after a bogus official struck in the Bradwell area on Saturday 22 March.
At approximately 2pm a man called at the home of an 80-year-old woman and claimed to be from Aspire Housing who were in the area ‘fitting window locks and CCTV’. He entered the house and asked her for payment, claiming he would return at a later time. He didn’t come back.
The man is described as white, aged late 30s, with dark hair. He was approximately 5ft 7ins tall and wore a waist length brown jacket and dark trousers.
An investigation into the incident is now underway by detectives, who are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry including extensive house-to-house enquiries and gathering CCTV footage from the locality. It was confirmed that Aspire did not have anyone in the area carrying out such work.
Caroline Baggaley, head of housing at Aspire, said: “When our representatives call at your home to inspect or carry out a repair, please check their identity.
“If the caller cannot provide this, do not let them in. Aspire Housing will never ask for money for works undertaken on the doorstep. If a customer has a caller who will not show ID or who is asking for cash, they should report to police.”
Officers want to speak to anyone with information, or who saw suspicious persons and/or vehicles in the area prior to the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Colin Rushton at Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident 414 of March 22, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Residents are encouraged to contact police if and every time they have suspicions about any caller at their door.
Even if someone claims to be an official – and that includes police officers and council representatives – people must get their ID checked out.
Customers are asked to remain vigilant at all times and to follow this advice:
Never trust anyone calling at the door without a prior appointment. Should you receive such a call leave the door locked. The caller will hear you through the door when you ask them who they are. If they state they are from a utilities company ask for your account number, they should have this, if not, do not let them in and tell them to leave, and that you are calling the Police.
Always ask for ID, and check it.
Do not allow anyone to carry work out on your home, or sell you anything when they cold call at the door. If you do require work to be done, all Aspire Housing on 01782 635200 and report the repair.
Do not keep large amounts of cash in your home, you may think that you have the perfect hiding place, but these criminals will find it.
Please remember there is no such company as the Water Board, Gas Board or Electric Board. These words are only used by offenders.
Always report any suspicious behaviour to the police, if you think it is suspicious, it probably is.
Keep your doors locked even when you are home.
Customers should also follow the stop, chain and check rule when people call at the door:
STOP – If you are not expecting anybody and they don’t have an appointment – don’t let them in
CHAIN – Use your door chain or bar before opening the door
CHECK – Ask to see ID and double check this.
People can also use the Nominate a Neighbour (NAN) scheme which diverts cold callers to a neighbour who will check caller’s identity. NAN packs are available from local police stations.