Harrogate police warn against dangers of doorstep crime

3 November 2014

North Yorkshire Police Officers are investigating more than 20 reports of distraction burglaries across the county between June and October 2014.

They are urging people to be alert to the threat posed by bogus callers and to report information to the police immediately.
Recent offences included those committed by men posing as “water board” officials and jewellery and gold buyers.
Other offenders have claimed to be window cleaners, handymen, gutter or driveway cleaners, fish sellers and even someone replying to an advert for a lost dog.
It is important that people are alert when anyone calls at their door and should always ask for identification.

25 September – Swinton Court, Harrogate – A man posing as a window cleaner called at a 64-year-old man’s house, asked a lot of questions and looked around before leaving. The suspect who was scruffily dressed is described as around 5ft 8in tall, with a beard and moustache.

25 September – Anchor Road, Harrogate – An elderly woman was visited by a bogus council official who said he needed to do some plumbing work. He asked the victim to hold the taps while he went upstairs to check the water. The victim became suspicious and the man left when she asked him for ID. The man had an eastern European accent.

15 October 2014 – Summerbridge, Harrogate – during the evening an unknown man claiming to be from the gas board entered the house of an elderly man. The suspect made off empty handed.

Detective Superintendent Steve Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, said: Bogus callers prey on the most vulnerable people in our society and often target them in their own homes.

One of the best ways to tackle these people is to raise awareness about what they are doing and we all have the responsibility to keep an eye out for our elderly neighbours and relatives and try and educate them about the threat of doorstep crime.

It is also very important to report suspicious people or vehicles to the police. We need to build up a picture of who is committing these offences and the more information the public provide us with, the better chance we have of catching them and bringing them to justice.

Police have issued the following tips to help combat bogus callers at your home:

  • LOCK all doors – even when you are at home
  • STOP before you open the door, ask them who they are
  • CHAIN- always use a door chain or spy hole
  • NOT sure who they are? Don’t open the door!

For more information and advice about tackling bogus callers that could be passed on to elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours in particular, please visit the North Yorkshire Police website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/boguscallers

Recent offences across the county

23 October – Byland Road, Whitby – a white man, mousy hair, “cockney” accent, going door to door trying to buy jewellery.

20 October – Flower Garth, Scarborough – a man, London accent, aged mid-30s and wearing a blue jacket, attends an address asking if the woman homeowner had any jewellery to sell. While the woman is in her bedroom looking for items, the man removed £300 from her unattended handbag. The man had previously attended the house and bought a pair of earrings for £10.

20 October – Pindar Road, Eastfield, Scarborough – a white “scruffy-looking” man, aged 40, wearing jeans and black jacket, med length dark hair, attends the house attempted to buy gold, silver and old watches.

17 October – Parker Drive, Bedale – three men with Geordie accents in a shabby-looking van with “Scottish Fisheries” on the side in red and green writing, allegedly tried to con an elderly man out of more than £80 while selling fish.

13 October 2014 – Springfield Close, Boroughbridge – Two men – both white, one had a moustache, aged in their 30s, Yorkshire accents, wearing outdoor clothing, jacket and navy caps – knocked on the window of an elderly woman’s house claiming to be from the council and needed to check the taps within the kitchen of the premises. Once inside, one of the men asked the victim to turn on both taps at the kitchen sink and to keep hold of both taps. The man then leaves the kitchen and makes a tidy search of a living room, discovering cash in a handbag. The offender then advises the victim that she can switch off the taps and he made off on foot.

1 October 2014 – Scalby Road Scarborough – A man, between 35 and 40 years old, with dark brown hair and of average height, was knocking on doors asking residents if they had any gold to sell. He allegedly pushed his way into an elderly woman’s house. He was driving a large dark-green van with a teenage passenger inside.

25 September – Angrove Close, Great Ayton – An elderly woman was approached by a man who was claiming to be selling household goods. He allegedly made the woman feel sorry for him as he is out of work and she handed over money to help him. Enquiries are ongoing to trace the suspect.

24 September – Norwood Terrace, Boroughbridge – Two men called at the home of an elderly man claiming to be from the water board and needed to find the source of a water leak. One of the men emptied the cupboard under the sink while the other man wandered around the house. When the victim asked the men to write down their details they refused and left. When they had gone the victim discovered that his wallet had been stolen from a drawer in his living room. There is no description of the suspects.

24 September – Hempland Lane, York – Three men called at a 61-year-old man’s home offering to power wash his drive. While they were on the drive a neighbour noticed one of the men pulling at the roof felt to make it look as if it needed repairing. The men wanted £200 for washing the drive. They were in a white Ford Transit van with UK Block Paving written on the side.

22 September – Mallard Road, Scotton, Catterick Garrison – A vulnerable elderly man was targeted by a bogus builder who was trying to persuade him to have his guttering repaired. The incident was reported by a concerned neighbour. The man was driving a white van and is described as having a stocky build and short hair.

21 September – Crown Crescent, Scarborough – Two men approached an elderly woman outside Shades Wine Bar and asked her if she needed any work doing on her property. She invited them to her nearby flat and agreed to pay £1,600 to have her roof repaired. She paid half the money upfront and the men returned the next day to do the work but demanded the rest of the cash. The victim refused to pay until the work had been completed and the men left and never returned. The men, who were driving a small black van said they were called James and Christopher and worked for First Choice Roofing.

15 September – Danes Dyke, Scarborough – A man claiming to be buying and selling gold and silver called at the home of a vulnerable elderly woman. He took three pieces of jewellery from her in return for £20. He promised to come back later in the day and give the victim more money never returned. The suspect is described as Asian, and was carrying a newspaper with the page open at an advert for gold and silver.
13 September – Raven Court, Westwood, Scarborough – The victim, an elderly woman, had put a poster in her window appealing for help to find her lost dog. A man knocked at her door claiming he had seen her dog and asked for a pen to write down his phone number. Despite being told to wait at the door, the man followed the victim into her flat and grabbed her purse before running off.

11 September – Bright Walk, Selby – A 23-year-old man called at an elderly man’s home and took money from him for some building work which he didn’t complete. The man has been arrested and charged with burglary and fraud by false representation. He is due to stand trial at York Magistrates’ Court on 30 October 2014.

13 September – Flaxley Road, Selby – The same man as above has been charged after allegedly taking £15 from a 74-year-old man to clear some brambles. He left in his van and never returned.

9 – 11 September – Bright Walk, Selby – The same man as above has been charged after allegedly approaching a 71-year-old man and offering to fix his broken fence. He took £40 from the victim for materials but did not carry out the work.

1 September – Wesley View, Horsefair, Boroughbridge – An elderly woman was visited at home by two men claiming to be working on the house next door. They said they wanted to check for damp in the front bedroom. The men went upstairs before leaving. A week later the woman noticed that a bag containing valuables had been taken from the wardrobe in the bedroom. One of the men, who described himself as ‘the boss’ was wearing a dark grey long-sleeved sweater and grey trousers. The second man was wearing a long sleeved blue or green coloured top.

31 July – Broadlands Drive, East Ayton, Scarborough – Two men called at the home of an elderly man and offered to pressure wash his drive. They charged the victim £250 and he paid in cash. The men then said that part of the drive had sunk and said they could repair it. The victim gave them £300 to buy materials. After completing some work the men demanded a further £400. The victim offered them a cheque which the men refused before becoming aggressive and leaving without finishing the work. The men were both aged in their early 20s. one had fair hair the other had dark hair.

26 July – Green Park Avenue, Cayton, Scarborough – An elderly woman was in her front garden when she was approached by two men in a white van who offered to clean her guttering and jet wash her drive. They quoted her £175 for both jobs and began work immediately when she reluctantly agreed. When they had finished the men said the price had gone up to £275. The victim felt overwhelmed by the men and agreed to let them drive her to a cash machine to get the money. They dropped her off and when they came back to collect her, they informed her the price was now £475 and she could pay the difference by cheque. When the victim go home her husband, who had been unaware of what was happening, found her writing the cheque and tore it up. He paid the men £125 and they left after leaving a business card for Diamond Paving. The two men are described as white, aged in their early 20s, around 5ft 8in tall. One of the men had a muscular build, while the other man was quite skinny. They were both wearing dark-coloured shorts and white t-shirts.

25 July – Bridlington Street, Hunmanby, Filey – Two men approached an elderly woman and offered to clean her drive. They agreed a price of £390 and they returned the next day to complete the work. The victim wasn’t happy with the standard of the work and gave the men £370. They initially gave a receipt but then became abusive. The next day they came back and did some further work for the outstanding £20. The men, who were in a white van, both wore white tops with ‘Mitchell’ embroidered on them. They had a business card for Mitchell Landscapes, in North Ferriby.

21 July – Hill Top, Barlby, Selby – A suspect called at the home of a 49-year-old man and took £20 from for materials to repair his shed roof. The suspect never returned to complete the work.

If you are the victim of a bogus caller or see anything suspicious in your area, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 1 – and pass information to the Force Control Room.
If you prefer not to give your name, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Always dial 999 if you feel threatened and emergency response is required.

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