An operation to tackle doorstep crime will see police visiting homes in a bid to educate people on how to wise up to rogue traders next week.
The joint scheme will see Thames Valley Police, Community Safety and Buckinghamshire County Council visit doorstep crime hotspots across Aylesbury as part of Rogue Trader Week.
They’ll be working with homeowners to advise them on how to report suspicious doorstep callers and giving them information on how to set up a ‘no doorstep selling’ zone.
They will also explain how residents can become a community champion, which involves protecting vulnerable and elderly neighbours against potential scammers. It’s hoped the visits will also unearth more information about incidents that have gone unreported.
Trading Standards reckons that doorstep crime, which involves rogue trader calls and distraction burglaries, costs victims around £5.5 million a year.
Buckinghamshire Trading Standards officers Tim Day and Chris Holden, who have been tracking doorstep scams, say that between January 2010 and September 2012 the combined value of reported loss to residents was £974,000, but because only one in 10 victims actually reports their loss to police, the real figure is estimated to be much more.
Chris said: “This is how we can extrapolate the loss to reach our estimate of five and a half million pounds. That’s around 4,000 victims.”
Though the average amount scammed is £10,000, there have been cases where victims have been conned out of as much as £200,000.
County council cabinet member for community engagement Martin Phillips said he is angry that so many older and vulnerable residents fall victim to rogue workmen or sales people, and is concerned that victims don’t feel able to report their losses.
He said: “We want to provide our residents with the best defences, like setting up a no-doorstep-selling zone. I’d recommend a visit to one of our joint agency advice clinics.
“The partnership approach is the way to fight the scammers, and this is why the teams are working together and will continue to do so.”
As part of the week-long national awareness programme, an anti-rogue trader advice clinic will be held in Friars Square on Wednesday, April 9, between 10am and 4pm.
To report suspicious doorstep callers, call Buckinghamshire Trading Standards on 01296 382649, the Consumer Advice Line on 08454 040506 or Thames Valley Police on 101.