'If you are not sure, do not open the door' - that is the message from police urging anyone with elderly relatives or neighbours to help prevent them from becoming a victim of doorstep crime.
Northamptonshire Police is teaming up with Trading Standards to relaunch of the Doorstep Action Network (DAN) to disrupt criminals who look to exploit vulnerable people on their own doorsteps for financial gain.
Doorstep crime can come in many forms, from distraction burglaries to rogue traders looking to make a quick sale.
Crime prevention manager Laura Jones said: “The message we want people to make their elderly relatives aware of is simple – if you’re not sure, don’t open the door.
“We are asking anyone who has contact with an elderly or vulnerable person to pass on this gentle crime prevention reminder to help prevent them from becoming a victim of doorstep crime.
“Distraction burglaries and other forms of doorstep crime often have a much more devastating effect on their victims than just the loss of money.
“They make a person, especially the elderly, feel exceptionally vulnerable and unsafe in their own homes, with past studies indicating that life expectancy decreases after you’ve been a victim of this type of crime.
“I would encourage people to pass on our DAN advice, which is available in leaflet form and via our website, and display the DAN sticker on front doors, which lets people know that cold callers are not welcome.”
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place Jason Smithers added: “We are advising people not to deal with unexpected cold callers offering any kind of service or trying to sell you something on your doorstep.
“We’ve had reports of rogue traders carrying out poor quality repairs and charging inflated prices, sometimes even driving the victim to the bank to withdraw money or threatening them.
“In many cases these criminals try to take advantage of elderly and vulnerable people, which is why we’re also asking friends, relatives, neighbours and carers to be on their guard and look out for their loved ones.”
What can you do to protect the person you care for?
Reinforce the message “if you’re not sure, don’t open the door’
Display a DAN sticker to discourage unwanted callers. These are available by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06
Make the person aware that they are never required to open their door to unexpected callers and that it is not rude to send someone away
Explain the tactics used by rogue doorstep traders and distraction burglars.
Advise them not to keep money in the house and to keep credit cards, debit cards, cheque books, savings books and any other valuables in a safe place
Encourage them to set up passwords with their utility companies
Help them ensure that the outside of their property is well maintained
If they need any home improvement work carried out, help them to select a Trading Standards approved trader by contacting the Buy With Confidence scheme on 01392 383430 or buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
Alternatively, information about ‘Trustmark’, the Government-endorsed trader quality scheme, can be found at trustmark.org.uk.