Bogus callers target thousands in region

BOGUS callers talk their way into the homes of more than 10,000 pensioners in the eastern region every year– stealing from more than two thirds of victims.

BOGUS callers talk their way into the homes of more than 10,000 pensioners in the eastern region every year- stealing from more than two thirds of victims.

The announcement came from the British Gas/Help The Aged Partnership's senior safety campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness among older people across the country, of ways in which they can protect themselves from this crime.

Despite the alarming figures, Suffolk Police said that between April 1, 2003 and January 30, 2004 they only had 118 reports of bogus callers in the county. That was a slight increase for the same period on the previous year, where there were 104 reported incidents.

Mike Nunn, a spokesman for Suffolk Police, said: "This is a despicable offence which often has an extremely detrimental effect on the victims.

"These offenders target elderly and vulnerable members of our community - this is simply not acceptable in Suffolk.

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"Although the figures in this recent survey do not reflect the trend of offences in Suffolk, we are still keen to get the message across that these offences can easily be prevented.

"Thanks to the help of the local media we have recently seen an increase in the number of people who have 'out smarted' offenders by following some simple crime reduction steps.

"We would always recommend that before you open the door to a caller that you STOP and consider if you are expecting anyone, lock any other doors to your property and then CHAIN or bar your door before opening it. Then CHECK the caller has photographic identification. Make sure that you are happy that this identification is legitimate. If they have not got a card, or you are not happy with the identification provided, keep then out and dial 999."

The scale of the problem was revealed when the partnership found that nearly fifty per cent of those approached by bogus callers did not report the incident to police, and 42pc felt the event was too trivial to bother the authorities with.

The national campaign also calls on the Government to dedicate more resources to tackle this crime, ensuring better co-ordination between police forces to track bogus caller activity and bringing the offenders to justice.

Yet 32pc of older people do not lock their doors when at home, and a similar number have not seen awareness campaigns.


The partnership recommends the Lock, Stop, Chain and Check steps to be taken to avoid bogus caller crime:

Ensure that doors are locked at all times even when at home

Always put the chain on before you open the door

Always ask to see an identification card - then ring the company concerned to check that the caller is genuine.

Always ask the caller to call back later when you have someone with you if you are unsure.