EADT campaign sees drop in bogus callers
A CRACKDOWN on bogus callers targeting elderly residents in Suffolk has seen a dramatic drop in offences across the county, new figures have revealed.The EADT re-launched its Safe In Your Home campaign in partnership with Suffolk police at the end of September after a month in which 26 households were hit and more than £27,000 was stolen.
By Jonathan Barnes
A CRACKDOWN on bogus callers targeting elderly residents in Suffolk has seen a dramatic drop in offences across the county, new figures have revealed.
The EADT re-launched its Safe In Your Home campaign in partnership with Suffolk police at the end of September after a month in which 26 households were hit and more than £27,000 was stolen.
Police said that in October just three offences have been reported, with conmen only escaping with cash on one occasion.
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Last night a detective leading the fight against bogus callers described the figures as “encouraging” and said a number of potential offenders had been turned away at the front door.
But he added there was no room for complacency in the ongoing campaign against conmen and said that even a single offence was “one too many”.
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So far this month, bogus callers have succeeded in gaining entry to properties just three times in Suffolk.
The first two incidents, in St Augustine's Gardens, in Ipswich, on October 6, when a man asked to check water pipes, and in Covey Way, Lakenheath, on October 25, when a bogus caller claimed to be from an electricity company, both saw the offenders leave empty handed.
Unfortunately, a conman who preyed upon a 90-year-old man in Woolpit on Monday, asking for money for non-existent chimney repairs, managed to con the man out of cash and steal a further amount.
But overall October contrasts with the previous month, when a string of offences across the county were reported and conmen stole thousands of pounds of cash and possessions.
The crimewave prompted police to warn elderly residents to be on their guard and the EADT to relaunch Safe In Your Home, which is intended to raise awareness of the crime and provide key tips and advice to beat bogus callers.
Detective Inspector Richard Crabtree, of Suffolk police, said: “The message does appear to be getting through and it is welcome news that there has been a reduction in offences.
“There have been some encouraging signs with some approaches to homes by these bogus callers being unsuccessful.
“I'm sure that is a direct result of the partnership approach between the police and the media - such as the EADT's Safe In Your Home campaign - bringing this crime to people's attention and getting them to challenge people coming to their front door.
“But the number of offences has fluctuated throughout the year and I would urge that all parties remain vigilant. We cannot be complacent.”
Det Insp Crabtree added: “We consider this to be the most despicable for crimes because the majority of people targeted are vulnerable and elderly.
“Some of these people have lost their life savings, or in one case, even savings for their funeral. I find it difficult to think of anything worse - after all these people have done for their communities and country, to be targeted in such a way is despicable.
“We are reviewing our tactics in tackling this crime and targeting suspects through intelligence - we have had some notable success and I'm sure that has had an impact on the frequency of offences. But even if there is just one offence a month, it is one too many.”
EADT editor Terry Hunt said: “We're delighted to see the drop in the numbers of this vile crime. But as Det Insp Crabtree said, one offence a month is one too many, so we will carry on doing what we can to raise awareness with our campaign.”
The bogus caller who struck at Woolpit is described as white, aged between 30 and 40, with brown coloured hair which was combed back, 5ft7in tall and wearing a navy suit.
Anyone with information should call DC Hannah Martin at Suffolk Police on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.