Bogus callers crackdown hailed a success

By Sharon AsplinA POLICE team dedicated to combating bogus callers has seen a significant drop in the number of offences being committed.The Operation Splash team -a detective sergeant and four detective constables - was set up by Essex Police in November in response to the number of bogus callers preying on the elderly and vulnerable.

By Sharon Asplin

A POLICE team dedicated to combating bogus callers has seen a significant drop in the number of offences being committed.

The Operation Splash team -a detective sergeant and four detective constables - was set up by Essex Police in November in response to the number of bogus callers preying on the elderly and vulnerable.

In the eight months since it was started, Operation Splash has arrested 21 people and detected 92 offences. There are currently six people awaiting trial for various offences, including burglary.


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The actions of the team, together with other initiatives organised by Essex Police, has seen a reduction in the number of bogus caller crimes - known as artifice burglaries - from 72 in September 2004 to 32 in July 2005.

But despite the success of Operation Splash, police want to reinforce their message to vulnerable residents who may otherwise be tempted to let strangers into their house without valid ID.

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Inspector Dave Northcott, of Essex Police's force crime reduction, said bogus callers were good at persuading residents to let them in.

“They are very convincing. In some cases they have spent their whole lives doing this - the 'skills' are handed down through families and it is seen by them as a 'family business',” he said.

“We need all the information we can get, so if you are suspicious of someone on your doorstep, try to take a note of whether they sound local, any distinguishing features or even something as simple as a sign on the side of a vehicle or its index number.”

The announcement came as police warned the public to be on their guard after an elderly woman was duped out of more than £2,000 by bogus workmen.

The workmen called at her home in Kirby Road, Walton on the Naze, on August 3 and she employed them to do some work on her driveway.

The men returned the following day and began digging up her drive. They then took her to her bank in their white transit van and she withdrew money, which she gave to them.

But after returning to the house, the workmen drove off while she was making them a cup of tea, leaving the driveway unfinished.

Pc Dave Bishop, of Clacton police, said: “This was a callous incident which has left an elderly lady very distressed. We appeal to anyone who knows who these heartless men are to come forward.

“We also want to remind the public never to allow unsolicited workmen to do work on your home and never part with any money until the job has been completed to your satisfaction.

“If you feel threatened in any way by callers, do not hesitate to contact the police by dialling 999.”

Anyone with information about suspected bogus callers should contact the Operation Splash team on 01245 452295 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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