Added: Friday 16 January 2009
Please note that this is archived material and may not necessarily reflect the current position of Northamptonshire Police
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE Police has vowed to crack down on distraction burglars after a spate of incidents in the county.
The Force has asked the 120,000 members of the county’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme to be on the look out for suspicious activity and suspicious vehicles in their areas.
Officers are also visiting known offenders across the county and working with partners to tackle the issue.
Over the last few days there have been at least eight attempted distraction burglaries or distraction burglaries in the county.
The latest incident took place in Rose Avenue in Rushden between 2.15pm and 2.50pm on Thursday 15 January when unknown offenders called at the home of a 54-year-old woman claiming they needed to check the water supply. They gained entry but nothing was stolen in the incident.
Also on Thursday, a suspected rogue trader called at a home in Willow Lane, Stanion, offering to fix fences and cut hedges for a large sum of money. The female householder did not take him up on his offer. And at about 11.45am on the same day offenders who claimed to be from a building company gained entry to a home in Havelock Street in Kettering before stealing cash from within. The victim was a 67-year-old man. All of these investigations are continuing.
Detective Inspector Elliot Foskett said: “There has been a spate of distraction burglaries across the county over the past few days but it is important to note that this particular crime has been falling in the county for the past four years.
“We are working very hard to track down the people who have been committing these offences and that will continue.
“And we have also enlisted the help of the county’s neighbourhood watch scheme, whose members will be keeping an eye out for the people who commit this heartless crime.”
Distraction burglaries happen during weekdays and at weekends and at various times throughout the day.
From January 2007 to August 2007 there were 149 attempted/distraction burglaries across the county, while in the same period in 2008 there were just 78.
Detective Inspector Foskett said: “Distraction burglary is a callous crime which targets the elderly and vulnerable.
“The message is if you don’t know who is at the door don’t open it. Officials from organisations such as water companies do not call at your door without an appointment.
“But there is also a role for the wider community to play. We need everyone to report suspicious behaviour and remind their relatives and friends time and time again – just don’t open the door.”
Anglian Water is also warning potential bogus callers pretending to be ‘from the water board’ that their fake identity can be exposed with one simple free phonecall.
The fact that there is no such thing as ‘the water board’ is the first give-away that all is not as it would appear to be.
Sara Rowland from Anglian Water said: “The easiest way to stay in control and stay safe is to not let anyone in until you are sure you know who they are. All it costs is a little of your time to check ID and if you are still in doubt, keep them out.”
All Anglian Water callers have a unique photo ID card which they encourage the customer to take while they wait. The details of that employee, including a personal identification number, can then be checked before the customer even considers letting them in.
You can call Anglian Water free on 0800 145 145.
Trading Standards officers are also advising residents to be vigilant.
A spokesperson from Northamptonshire County Council's trading standards service said: "Our message is always very simple; avoid opening the door to someone if you’re not expecting them. Members of the public should never feel pressured into making a decision or agreeing to buy anything on the doorstep and anyone who needs trading standards advice should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.”
Anyone with any information should contact Northamptonshire Police on 08453 700700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.