Police hail fall in bogus callers

THE war against bogus callers is being won with fewer conmen than ever before gaining entry into the homes of vulnerable pensioners, it can be revealed today.

THE war against bogus callers is being won with fewer conmen than ever before gaining entry into the homes of vulnerable pensioners, it can be revealed today.

Three elderly people slammed doors in the faces of bogus callers in just 40 minutes during a fresh spate of incidents at the weekend.

Suffolk Trading Standards has also revealed it received just 22 complaints about doorstep fraudsters between September and November this year, compared to 37 the previous year.

And police have praised the elderly householders who refused entry to the burglars during the recent incidents, but warned others to remain vigilant.

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A total of five home across the west and south of the county were targeted between 12.35pm and 1.40pm on Saturday, and officers are now investigating the circumstances to establish if any are linked.

The first happened on the Nowton Estate in Bury St Edmunds when a man called at the door of a 76-year-old woman and asked to turn off her water.

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The victim said the burglar was extremely persistent and tried to scare her into letting him in by claiming her address would flood. However, she refused him entry and closed the door in his face.

Around ten minutes later, two men called at the home of an 80-year-old woman in Gardeners Walk, Elmswell, saying there was a water leak nearby. The woman became suspicious and refused to let the men in.

Next, a man visited an 85-year-old man's home in Britten Avenue, Stowmarket saying he needed to switch off the water.

He was allowed in and joined by a second man, but a neighbour then called round and the offenders ran from the scene. It is not believed anything was stolen.

A 74-year-old woman was then targeted at The Causeway in Needham Market. The caller was allowed entry and again joined by a second man, but the woman became suspicious and they left empty-handed.

But burglars escaped with cash after calling at an 84-year-old woman's home on Whitesfield Road, East Bergholt.

One man told her she needed to flush her toilet, but when she returned she then found a second offender in her living room.

“Distraction burglaries are despicable offences that will not be tolerated by Suffolk police,” said Detective Inspector Dave Rutterford, of Suffolk police. “These offenders deliberately target elderly members of our community who are often perceived to be more trusting and vulnerable.

“Fortunately though, it is an offence that can easily be thwarted by some simple measures. I am pleased to say that with a number of crime reduction campaigns and the help of the media this message is getting through.”

He added: “However, we must not become complacent and I would urge members of the public to remain vigilant. In the run up to Christmas we may see an increase in this type of offence.”

Roger Hopkins, assistant county trading standards officer, added: “The figures obviously make pleasant reading but we are ever more committed to driving the number of people targeted by doorstep callers down and the rogues out of business.

“Do not be pressurised into buying anything you do not want. Remain in control of the situation and if you don't want something be firm in saying no and ask the salesperson to leave.”

Police have advised homeowners to chain their doors before opening them, then check the photographic identification of the caller before allowing them entry.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information relating to these incidents to contact them on 01473 613 500.

Anyone with concerns about the selling techniques of any company should contact the Trading Standards consumer advice line on 01473 584358.

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