Members of the public in Selby, and now Haxby in York, have reported incidents of elderly residents being targeted by two men claiming to have seen a bird fly into their roof.
On two occasions the men have offered to go into the loft to get the bird out and check for damage. The men then offer to repair the damage – caused by themselves – at an inflated price.
In other incidents, the men have approached the elderly residents with the same story about a bird flying into their eaves. They go up their ladders to check it out and come back down within in few minutes claiming to have moved the bird and then demand a fee from the elderly person.
Officers have extended their warning across the county after receiving at least two reports in Selby and six in Haxby, near York. The men could strike anywhere and officers are urging people to be on their guard. In the most recently reported incidents, no cash has been exchanged.
Local police teams have been working with Trading Standards officers and have handed out crime prevention advice in the affected areas.
PC Hayley Rowbotham of York Safer Neighbourhood Team, said:
These people are some of the most cowardly and despicable people we come across. It is bad enough to try and con innocent members of the public out of their hard-earned cash, but to target the most trusting and vulnerable people in our communities is beyond contempt.
Anyone who is targeted by this pair or suspects or have seen them in action, should contact North Yorkshire Police as a matter or urgency.
If you see them in your neighbourhood or at the home of an elderly or vulnerable person, do not hesitate to call 999.”
Our advice to residents is not to answer your door to cold callers at all. And do not, under any circumstances, allow them into your home.
We also appeal to relatives, friends and neighbours to reassure older people that it is not impolite to say no to callers and to refuse to answer their door if they do not know who is calling.
Some callers may be genuine and will understand if you ask them to wait outside while you check their credentials. Ask them to provide identity through the letterbox and make them wait while you call their company to check them out.
If you do need any work doing on your property, discuss with family or friends and approach a reputable business.
Remember: Not sure? Don’t open the door!
Do not hesitate to call 999 if you feel threatened by cold callers.
Anyone who has also been targeted in similar circumstances is asked to contact Selby police on 101.
If you have any information about suspicious people or vehicles in your area, please report it to the police on 101, or you can pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online www.crimestoppers-uk.org
North Yorkshire Police has produced a video, leaflet and door hanger for elderly people to remind them not to answer their door to cold callers.
To pick up a free door-hanger, please call into any police station or call your local Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101.
To watch the video, please follow this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RJ64gFo0s0