Police praise EADT campaign
By Ted JeoryTHE East Anglian Daily Times' campaign to help elderly and vulnerable people ward off bogus callers has been praised by police who said the message was getting through.
By Ted Jeory
THE East Anglian Daily Times' campaign to help elderly and vulnerable people ward off bogus callers has been praised by police who said the message was getting through.
New figures revealed more than 7% of all house burglaries in north Essex wre committed by conmen who duped their way into people's homes.
The EADT relaunched its Safe in Your Home campaign six months ago following the death of 90-year-old Thelma Avis, who died hours after £1,000 was stolen from her Colchester home by suspected bogus callers.
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Special laminated advice cards were produced warning people to put the chain on the front door and always ask for identity cards.
Neil Avis, one of Mrs Avis' two sons, said last night he was heartened some good was coming from her death.
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“It's sad that it has taken a tragedy like the death of my mother to happen before people become more aware of these people, but it's nice to know that something good is coming out of it,” he added.
Police have only been required to keep separate figures for distraction burglaries - where criminals pretend to be from gas, water and other companies to gain access to homes - since April, making year-on-year trends difficult to detect.
But between April and November this year, there have been 117 such crimes in the north of the county, an average of 13 a month.
In that period there were 28 recorded bogus caller crimes in the Colchester division, 21 in the Tendring division, 39 in the Chelmsford division and 29 in the Braintree division.
Det Sgt Roger Napier, of Colchester police, said evidence suggested warnings to the elderly and vulnerable over home security were beginning to have an effect.
“We are encouraged by the EADT campaign and others in the media - it has made people more aware,” he added.
“We've had an increasing number of people turned away from doors and, therefore, spared the heartbreak of losing their life savings.
“The campaigns have also raised awareness among people who care for elderly relatives, making sure they're not isolated and are not keeping large sums of money in the house.”
Essex Police launched a murder inquiry after Mrs Avis, a grandmother-of-four, died four hours after £1,000 was stolen from her Barn Hall Avenue home on July 4 last year. They believe the trauma of the burglary could have triggered her death.
The EADT has put up a £1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Mrs Avis' killers. Three men have been arrested and are currently on police bail.