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Warning on distraction burglaries

Published Friday, 28 July 2017

Please read the message below from West Midlands Police.

There has been reports of several distraction burglary offences across the city in the past two days.

Burglars won't go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock and be invited in. So always be on your guard when anyone you're not expecting - a man, a woman or even a child - turns up at your door. Bogus 'officials' may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, gas board, health authority or other organisation.

Bogus 'dealers' may offer to buy your antiques, furniture or jewellery, at what seems to be a good price.

If you want to sell something, choose one or two genuine dealers to value it or ask a friend or relative for their advice.

Bogus 'workmen' may say that they need to come in to check something or make urgent repairs.  You also need to be careful of callers who offer to make building repairs such as guttering or tarmac your drive. Often they'll ask for money in advance; they may even offer to drive you to the bank to withdraw money to pay them.

If you need any building work done, get several written quotes from reputable firms, then decide which one is best. If in doubt, talk it through with a neighbour or someone in your family.

Genuine callers will normally make an appointment first and will carry identification with their photograph on.

ALWAYS PUT THE CHAIN ON

If someone calls at your door:

  • Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
  • Always put the chain on before you open the door. (If you don't have a chain it's a good idea to get one - they don't cost much)
  • With PVC doors, it can be difficult and costly to fit a door chain. Check with the manufacturer before you buy a PVC door, that a chain will be fitted.
  • FIRE SAFETY - only put on your door chain as you answer the door - don't keep it on all the time as this could delay your exit in case of fire.
  • Look at their clothing. Some official callers will have a uniform bearing their organisation's name or symbol.
  • If you don't know the caller, ask to see their identity card. Check it carefully, and keep the chain on while you do this. Genuine callers won't mind if you close the door while you do this.
  • Some public utility services (e.g. water, electricity, gas) operate a password system. Contact your local branch to find out more.
  • If you're still not sure, ask the caller to come back later. You can then check their story by phoning the organisation or company they claim to represent. Look up the number in your own telephone directory. Don't rely on the telephone number on their card - it may be the number of a crook's partner.
  • Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property. The best practice is not to let them in.
  • Ensure your back door is locked if you are answering the door to someone you don't know.
  • Watch out for anyone who says they're in a hurry. Don't let them pressure you. If in doubt, call a neighbour or friend.
  • If you have any suspicions at all, don't let them in.
  • If you're still not happy, phone the police - dial 999 - and tell them what's happened. And tell your neighbours.
  • Always put the chain on and use the spy-hole before you open the door.
  • Never let anyone in unless you are absolutely sure they are genuine.

 

Please visit the main West Midlands Police website at www.west-midlands.police.uk for crime prevention advice on a variety of topics, plus the latest news, key arrests.

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