A distraction burglar is someone who gains access to your property by distracting or tricking their way in to steal cash or valuables.
This can include claiming to be representing a company or charity to gain entry into homes before stealing items while the occupants are distracted.
A rogue trader is a cold caller who deliberately overcharges for unsatisfactory goods and/or services.
This can include charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.
A police spokesman said: “When someone calls at your door and offers to do repairs to your home, asks for urgent help, or when someone official knocks on your door, follow these simple steps to help protect yourself and your home from bogus callers.”
Lock: Keep your front and back doors locked at all times, even when at home.
Stop: Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Before you answer the front door, ensure that no rear or side doors and windows have been left open. It may be that the caller is trying to distract you while someone else sneaks in.
Chain: If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first.
Keep the bar or chain on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep.
Some bogus callers call on older and vulnerable people saying they need help urgently. Only go to help them if you have someone else with you.
Don’t worry if you choose not to help – it is not rude or unfriendly.
Check: If someone who looks official calls at your door, always do the following.
Ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if they have a prearranged appointment (all genuine callers will carry one). Do they look like the person on the card? Is the name the same one as that on your letter? Close the door while you do this.
If you are not expecting them and they have not shown you an identity card, do not let them in until you have checked and double-checked that the caller is genuine.
If you are going to ring the company the caller claims to be from, don’t rely on a number provided by them, you could be ringing an accomplice sat in the van outside. If you think the caller is genuine, but you would rather have a friend or relative with you, ask the caller to rearrange to a time when you are not on your own.
The spokesman added: “Doorstep crime isn’t common but it can have a long-lasting impact on victims’ lives. Remember if you’re not sure of a caller, don’t open the door – but do give us a ring.
“You can call us on 101. But please always call 999 in an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress.”