Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers across North Yorkshire have been targeted in a week-long crime prevention campaign, it can be revealed today.
Throughout this week local police teams and specialist units – including the force’s new Rural Taskforce – were targeting the callous criminals in a series of operations.
Rogue trading is a UK-wide problem, with evidence suggesting a number of burglars associate with rogue traders. Rogue traders regularly travel vast distances to commit their offences, often preying on older and vulnerable residents.
The week of action, dubbed Operation Rogue Trader, saw police and trading standards services across the country working with the Department of Work and Pensions, Environment Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA, the DVSA, Border Force and Scambusters to catch rogue traders and to prevent innocent people from becoming victims of crime.
In North Yorkshire, local police teams conducted high-visibility reassurance patrols in locations previously targeted by rogue traders; detectives visited previous victims; and drop-in sessions were held offering crime prevention advice to residents.
Officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce focused on isolated, rural areas, while the force’s Roads Policing Group and Road Crime Team carried out intelligence-led mobile patrols and stop-checks aiming to disrupt any cross-border criminals using the county’s road networks to commit crime.
DC Lesley Raffan, of North Yorkshire Police’s Force Intelligence Bureau, said:
Bogus callers and distraction burglars take advantage of people’s trust in the most callous way, only to trick them out of money or steal from them. I have seen first-hand the devastating impact that these criminals can have on their victims, who are often older or vulnerable.
Our rogue trader week of action has sent a clear message that North Yorkshire is a no-go area for these criminals – but the fight goes on, and I would urge anyone with family, friends or neighbours who might be vulnerable to their scams to make sure they are aware of the dangers.
Operation Rogue Trader is led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit that links associated crimes and gathers intelligence on key nominals and organised crime groups who travel extensively throughout the UK. In 2015 Operation Rogue Trader saw over 100 people arrested, £3.1m worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected nationally.
Andrew Luckett, the Office Manager for Operation Liberal, said:
Distraction crimes and scams continue to occur and the victims are swindled out of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work which has a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.
We will continue to carry out operations like this and remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.
Steve Playle, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said:
Operation Rogue Trader is a great opportunity for the different partners involved in tackling doorstep crime to come together and carry out some enforcement work and to raise awareness of the issues. Cold calling criminals undertaking property maintenance work continue to exploit vulnerable and elderly home owners.
Trading Standards officers right across the UK are committed to making criminal’s lives as difficult as possible by sharing intelligence, causing disruption and taking criminal prosecutions where necessary.”
A distraction burglar is defined as someone who gains access to your property by distracting or tricking their way in to steal cash or valuables.
Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high pressure sales techniques. The work is often sub-standard or not required at all.
For more information about distraction burglary and rogue trading – including case studies, videos and crime prevention advice which you can share with friends and family – visit the North Yorkshire Police website at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/boguscallers
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any doorstep offender or rogue trader should ring North Yorkshire Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.