Burglars don’t even go to the trouble of breaking into your home if they think they can knock on the door and get invited in! Distraction Burglars normally work in pairs and whilst one distracts the householder the other will sneak in and complete a quick search taking anything of value they come across. These criminals will use any excuse to gain entry, often pretending to be an official from a utility company, social services, trading standards or police.
Distraction burglars can be anyone, including children or females. Unfortunately, the depiction of a person in clothing covered in arrows or carrying a bag marked ‘swag’ does not exist making the job of identifying such criminals very difficult for our older and vulnerable community members. They may be smartly dressed or even wearing clothing relevant to the particular organisation they pretend to represent. Many simply resort to a clipboard and fluorescent vest to achieve their Bogus Official stance.
They will be particularly persuasive and play on your good nature to gain entry saying things like:
- There’s a water leak next door and I need to check your pipes
- I need to chack your pipes as the water may be unfit to drink
- We're laying pipes next door and the pipe goes under your garden
- There's been a gas explosion up the road and we need to check your pipes are safe
- I've run out of petrol, can I phone for help
- My son/daughter needs the toilet
- My son/daughter needs a drink of water
- I've lost my ball/dog/kitten ·
Over two thirds of reported distraction burglaries are enabled by purporting to be from “The Water Board.”
What’s your local ‘WATER BOARD’ called?
Trick question, you don’t have one! You have a Water Company, Thames Water, Anglian Water etc, WATER BOARDS have not existed for years, BUT, criminals know that the people they are targeting recognise that phrase, “I’m from the Water board” and know people of a certain age will respond to that. If you visit someone and during your conversation it comes out they’ve been visited by someone from ‘The Water board’… a few more questions are needed because you could potentially be talking to a victim of crime AND they may not even know they’ve been conned.
The message - DON'T DEAL WITH COLD CALLERS:
- Always keep your doors and windows locked.
- Be on your guard.
- Are you expecting anyone?
- Make sure your back door is locked before you think about opening your front door.
- Check who is at the door by using a spyhole or window overlooking the door.
- Always put your doorchain/doorbar on before answering the door.
- Caller not expected - ask them to call back when you know you can have someone with you. DO NOT LET THEM IN.
- Do not be pressurised into letting them in - you can say 'NO' it is not being rude.
- Do not accept identification cards - they are too easily falsified.
- Do not use telephone numbers supplied by the caller.
- Dial 999 and call the Police of they will not leave.
- NOT SURE? DON'T OPEN THE DOOR.
We have become a nation of identification card users and whilst on many occasions such cards are a necessity, with today’s technology they can simply be falsified, tricking people into believing they are looking at the genuine item. Older and more vulnerable people can easily be deceived with copied identification cards and they should not be asked to make ‘checks’ on cards handed over by callers at their doors. All genuine callers should make arrangements by appointment a realisation that all major organisations are having to steer towards to keep our communities safe.
If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of a bogus official /distraction burglary please report it to the police immediately.
Keep an eye out for such callers to your neighbours. Why did that person going down the street miss your door? But continue to your older neighbour? Report anything you believe is not right.
How you can help
- Explain to elderly relative/friend/neighbour/client how bogus callers/distraction burglars work.
- Discuss household security - doors/windows.
- Discuss opening the door to unexpected callers.
- Discuss the folly of keeping large amounts of cash in the house.
- Discuss why you should not pay with cash on the doorstep.
- Explain how it is not rude to say no.
You will not resolve issues or change perspectives overnight, but, by REPEATING and drip feeding the information it will sink in and your patience and perseverance will help prevent further crimes.