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Burglars target the vulnerable
9:00am Friday 23rd May 2014 in News
Police and trading standards bosses are working together to clamp down on distraction burglaries after an increase in complaints.
Three elderly people have been targeted in similar incidents and in one case a blind and partially deaf woman had a large amount of cash stolen.
The head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, David Lodge said a spike in such crime was common towards summer.
“This time of year sees a sharp increase in complaints about cold callers offering roofing, gardening, driveways etc,” he said.
“As the recent complaints show, a number of criminals do pose as doorstep sales people and bogus utility company officials often involved in carrying out distraction burglaries. We urge residents to be on their guard and report anything that is suspicious.”
Last month an elderly man in Otley was cold called by men with Irish accents. They told him that they had done the original work on his drive and asked if he would like it cleaning.
The 82-year-old accepted their offer. While one of the men was working, he asked if the victim had any headache tablets and followed him into the property, before asking to use the toilet.
The householder was suspicious and waited for him to come out of the bathroom, ensuring he was not left alone.
On the same day there was a similar incident at another property in Otley, where another elderly man was approached by the same gang asking him if he wanted work doing on his roof.
Again, they asked if he had anything for headaches. The householder obtained the registration number of the gang’s vehicle and they were arrested. One of the men has been deported to Ireland.
Last week a blind and partially deaf 87-year-old woman was targeted in Rawdon by a man selling tea towels on the doorstep. He walked into the house and took a large amount of cash.
West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service said that often criminals involved in distraction burglaries are also involved in other crime.
Force Crime Prevention Officer for West Yorkshire Police Chris Joyce said: “Our partnership approach with Trading Standards in developing further preventative approaches to reducing the number of victims of Doorstep Crime is vital.
“Preventing crime is everyone’s business and we will be engaging with other partner agencies and the communities of West Yorkshire to progress our work in protecting the most vulnerable people from becoming a victim of Doorstep Crime.”
Suspicious cold callers can be reported to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506 or call police on 101.