Police in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales are reminding residents of the tricks that can be used by distraction burglars.
While there have been no recent incidents in this part of the county, officers are issuing the advice after residents in Chesterfield were targeted by an offender who claimed to be from Neighbourhood Watch.
The latest incident took place last month in Glossop, when someone claiming to be from a utilities company distracted a resident while another person sneaked in and stole cash.
In the Derbyshire Dales, back in June, when a Matlock resident was targeted by a woman who claimed to be selling bedding. They paid for goods and later discovered that cash had been stolen.
Community Safety Sergeant Jon Lloyd said: “While the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas are safe places to live, with low levels of crime, distraction burglary is still a very distressing offence that mainly affects the most vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly.
Bogus callers will usually pretend to be on official business from respectable organisations such as utility companies or local authorities, sometimes posing as council workers, social services, police officers or nurses.
Police advice on preventing distraction burglary is:
• If you’re not sure who is at your door, don’t open it.
• Check the identity of the caller by calling the company they claim to be from eg. police, council or gas, electricity, water companies., etc, by using the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or sent to you by your service provider. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller, as they may be bogus.
• While Neighbourhood Watch members may not carry identification, you will often know them or recognise them from your street. You can also check that they are a legitimate co-ordinator with your local Safer Neighbourhood policing team.
• Many utility companies like gas, electricity and water, offer password schemes for customers, sign up to these. Unannounced callers claiming to be from these utility companies will know the password if they are genuine.
‘Water Boards’ no longer exist, it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus officials.
• Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times.
• If somebody asks for your help (needs to make a telephone call, lost a ball in your garden, needs a drink or pen and paper) refer them to a younger or less vulnerable neighbour, assist them through a closed door or call a friend or neighbour to come and help.
Sgt. Lloyd added: “Our aim at this time of year is to make sure that no one becomes a victim of distraction burglary. Remember, it is not unreasonable to ask people to wait outside and legitimate callers will be happy for you to check their details.”
You can contact the police and your local Safer Neighbourhood officers by calling 0345 123 33 33, except in an emergency when the number should always be 999.