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Cold Callers

Mid afternoon. A knock on the door.

"A chap in working clothes. Never seen him before.

"He flashes some ID and says he’s come to check the water supply – some problem with the pipes, I think he said. He asks me to turn the kitchen tap full on. I offer him a cup of tea and he says he'd love one.

"It is only after he has gone I realise that my savings have gone – and there’s jewellery missing too."

Another elderly victim. Another ‘distraction burglary’. It’s happening somewhere in Sussex at least five times a week – nearly 300 cases were reported to us last year alone. And there have been 135 reported cases since January, with 94% of victims over 60 years of age.

So far this year (June 2007) there have been 17 reports in Brighton, 40 in East Sussex and 78 in West Sussex.

'Operation Inroad' has declared war on bogus callers.

Operation Inroad

Sussex Police, working with local authorities and the utility companies, has launched ‘Operation Inroad’ – a Forcewide campaign declaring war on the callous conmen (or women) who prey on the most vulnerable members of the community.

Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Bowles, who is leading ‘Operation Inroad’, said:

“A recent day of action across Sussex directed against bogus callers led to us making four arrests the very next day. We are determined to tackle this insidious crime in Sussex and we are deploying significant resources to ensure that criminals will be identified when they enter the county to commit these offences. "In particular, our ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) equipment will enable us to trace the vehicles belonging to offenders much more quickly, and we are expanding the use of this tactic. Our day of action highlighted how impactive high profile resources can be on the major road network. “We are working with a number of partners, including Clear Channel, Crimestoppers and Trading Standards to tackle this particular type of offending across a wide front. We seek to arrest, prosecute, and convict those responsible.”

If you're in any doubt, don't let the caller in.

Here's what you can do to keep yourself safe - and help others:

What to do

When you hear someone at the door:

Take your time - a genuine caller will wait.

Look and see who is there, using the door viewer or a window.

If you do not recognise who it is:

Apply your door chain or door bar.

Check all your doors are locked - burglars often come in pairs, so one may come in the back why you're being distracted at the front door.

Always ask for identification, but remember:

ID cards are easy to copy. If in doubt, ask them to wait and call their company to check - once again, a genuine caller will not mind.

Use your phone book or utility bill to find the number - don't accept a mobile number offered to you by the caller.

You do not have to let people in and if you are uncertain then don't, however persuasive or plausible the caller is. It is better to turn a genuine caller away than let a burglar in.

If you look after someone who is elderly or vulnerable, please do all you can to make sure they heed this advice - and to persuade them not to keep large sums of money at home.

For more information, please contact PCSO Julie West on 0845 60 70 999 ext 63226 or PCSO Dennis Dowle on 0845 60 70 999 ext 21893.

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