Distraction burglaries

WHAT is a distraction burglary? Well, it means quite literally that a criminal will attempt to distract you while they or a colleague carry out a burglary. You may also know a distraction burglar as a bogus caller . One of the most common tricks is to c

WHAT is a distraction burglary?

Well, it means quite literally that a criminal will attempt to distract you while they or a colleague carry out a burglary.

You may also know a distraction burglar as a 'bogus caller'. One of the most common tricks is to claim to be from the water board or gas/electricity utility service.

Someone may knock on your door - sometimes in uniform-style clothing and with fake identification - but sometimes not, and claim that they need to get into your house to access the water/gas/electricity etc.

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They may then ask you to perform a task to keep you occupied or keep you talking while they or a colleague searches your home for money or valuables.

Hertfordshire is a safe county but we want to make sure you are as well informed as possible in order to prevent such a crime happening to you.

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As a police force, we run Operation Manhunt which targets distraction burglars and rogue traders and we are working hard to ensure that Welwyn Hatfield is a very hostile environment for criminals to operate in.

But it's important to know that utility companies almost NEVER come to your door without a pre-arranged appointment.

And if they do have genuine business at your property, they will be more than happy to go away and come back at another time and date when you can ensure you have a friend or neighbour in the house with you.

Distraction burglars can come in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes and pretend to be legitimate callers.

Male or female, young or old, distraction burglars have used excuses such as needing to use a phone, requesting a glass of water or even very young children claiming to need to look for a lost ball or kitten.

But it's your home - do NOT be pressurised into letting in anyone you don't know.

If you need further security devices such as door chains, then please contact your local crime prevention officer Linda Stevens on 01707 638739.

We are also asking neighbours, carers and relatives to make sure they spread the message and to keep an eye on vulnerable people.

Report any suspicious activity by ringing 999 immediately!

We live in a safe county and you can help us keep it safe and make it safer.

You can help us catch criminals by contacting us as soon as possible.

If you see or suspect anything suspicious, you've had or seen a suspicious caller ring us straight away on 999.

Ring us on 0845 33 00 222 if you have any information about burglars. You can also ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to give information anonymously.

We'd rather you report it and the activity turns out to be innocent than not reporting it at all.

Chief Inspector

Simon Hawkins

Before answering that knock on the door

# Make sure doors are locked - even when you are in the house, or are expecting a caller. It only takes a few seconds for someone to walk in and take a wallet or purse that has been left lying around.

# Always put the door chain on before you open the door. Alternatively, use a door bar, which is less fiddly than a chain. You can get either from a DIY store and they are inexpensive and easy to fit.

Find out what the caller wants and don't feel pressurised into letting them in.

If the caller is claiming to be carrying out maintenance work or from a utility company - such as a water supplier - check the caller's ID card and telephone their company. Genuine callers will be happy to wait while you make the check but don't use the number given on the card because if it is a bogus caller, the number may be that of an accomplice. Find the number in the phone book instead.

# If you still feel uneasy, don't let the caller in, or ask them to call back later. You can then ask for advice from a family member, friend or your local police and arrange for someone to be with you if you've asked them to return.

# Never buy items or pay for services in cash at the door. It lets people know that you have money in the house. Never give work to tradespeople who call at the door - always use a reputable and recommended local firm for such work as gardening, roof repairs and surfacing driveways.

# Don't keep large sums of money at home. If you know anyone who does, encourage them to save their money in a safer place such as in a bank, building society or post office account. If you are in any doubt or believe that a crime has been committed, call the police on 999.

As I said earlier, Hertfordshire is a safe county but we can always take precautions to pr event crime occurring.

The key message is simple - if in doubt, keep them out. And always report any thing suspicious to us.

Have a safe and happy new year.

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