26th May 2020

Beware of doorstep criminals ‘heartlessly targeting vulnerable people’

Avon and Somerset Police are asking people to be on the alert as a number of doorstep crime offences have been reported across the Avon and Somerset policing area.

This month (October) police have had 14 reported incidents in which men have called on elderly and vulnerable people’s homes and either tried to persuade them to have work done or claimed to be from the council or a utility company.

In a few cases they have just walked or pushed in when the door was answered or claimed to be working on a neighbour’s home.

On some occasions cash has been stolen and in others the men have tried to get cash payments for carrying out unnecessary work. Thankfully in most cases they have left empty-handed.

Incidents have been reported across Bristol in Frome Vale, Kingsweston, Knowle, Lockleaze and St George, with two incidents reported in both Bishopsworth and Stockwood.

In South Gloucestershire there have been incidents in Kingswood, Longwell Green and Warmley while in North Somerset residents of Backwell and Yatton have been affected.

In most cases two men have been involved and it has happened between 10am and midday.

Police have carried out house-to-house enquiries and helped those affected improve their home security.

DCI Gary Haskins said:

“Thankfully people are becoming more aware of how to protect themselves from this type of crime. I would urge you to be on your guard if you have an unexpected caller. Use your door chain. Genuine council or utility staff will offer identification and will be happy for you to check it before you let them in.

“If you’re in any doubt about a visitor, ring us straight away on 101. If you feel threatened, call 999. The key thing to remember is if you’re not sure, don’t open the door.”

DCI Haskins said it wasn’t clear whether the same two men were involved in the reported incidents.

He said:

“These criminals appear to be heartlessly targeting vulnerable people. I’d urge you to keep an eye on your frail elderly neighbours and call us straight away if you’re concerned about suspicious visitors.

Please will anyone with any information which can help us track these men down get in touch, either through our website or by calling 101.”

Alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.