How doorstep criminals could latch on to lockdown lifting

Suffolk Trading Standards have warned over Nottingham Knockers across the county. Picture: STEVE ADA

Suffolk Trading Standards have predicted a rise in the number of rogue traders calling at properties this year

Authorities are bracing themselves for a rise in doorstep crime as life returns to normal across Suffolk.

Rogue trader reports plummeted during the first Covid-19 lockdown as people stayed at home and kept doorstep crime in check.

But officials have warned that people returning to workplaces could leave the elderly and vulnerable at renewed risk.

Just 27 rogue trader incidents were reported between the beginning April and June last year.

Numbers leapt to 54 with the easing of restrictions, between July and September.

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The total rose to 65 during the next quarter, before falling to 57 over the most recent lockdown and rising to a two-year high of 68 between April and June.

Reports during the most recent quarter included 19 Nottingham knockers and 13 offers of energy saving home improvements.

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Based on current data, the annual total of reports could reach 256, compared to 188 in 2020 and 168 in 2019.

Suffolk Trading Standards saw an increase immediately after the first lockdown, with each quarter showing a higher number of incidents than the previous year.

A spokesman said: "Reported incidents have continued to increase.

"We have seen an increase since the first lockdown of Nottingham knockers and energy related doorstep callers.

"These callers can target several households in an area as they have groups of individuals walking the streets.

"There was a decrease of doorstep incidents during lockdown one. However, we did see impersonation incidents, such as those pretending to be from the Red Cross and individuals claiming to be from local community groups, offering to help with shopping, but then never returning."

In June last year, a 94-year-old Sudbury resident was driven in her dressing gown to withdraw cash for a rogue trader who charged £250 to mow the lawn. 

In March this year, three Lowestoft residents lost cash to rogue traders who demanded £200 upfront for roof repairs which were neither needed nor completed.

Suffolk Trading Standards advise people to never to buy goods or services from a trader on the doorstep.

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities, said: “Doorstep fraud is a terrible crime which can have lasting ramifications for victims and their families.

"We urge our local communities to be vigilant and to look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours. Often it is neighbours, relatives and friends who raise the alarm.

“Rogue traders are highly organised, professional offenders who have developed their skills over the years."

To report rogue traders in your area, call Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133, or dial 999 if a crime is progress.

For more information and advice, including how to make your neighbourhood a 'No Cold Calling Zone', click here.

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