Most people who call at your home will be genuine. However, occasionally, criminals posing as someone official may turn up as an unexpected caller and try to trick their way into your home to steal valuables or money.
They could be male or female, young or old. They could pretend to be from the council, or say they work for a gas or electric company – or even that they are a police officer. And they often don’t work alone.
Metropolitan Police statistics show that, last year, 69% of these ‘artifice burglaries’ were committed against residents aged 65 or older – across the west London boroughs of Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
A new police scheme is aiming to provide more joined-up support for older burglary victims, including referral to help from council and NHS services and from local charities. It is also looking to raise awareness of the problem, so more residents can be alert to the dangers.
If we all keep an eye on any older or vulnerable neighbours, we can help them avoid becoming victims.
Impact on victims’ lives
Acting Detective Inspector Tom Collins of Ealing Police said: “Organised criminal groups will prey on the
vulnerable. The psychological impact of a burglary, and the subsequent effect on the victim’s lifestyle, can be significant.
“This is why we are working with Ealing Council, the NHS and other partners to provide victims with more support.”
‘Looking out for our neighbours’
Councillor Jasbir Anand, the council’s cabinet member for tackling inequality and crime, said: “All burglary is appalling, but this kind of targeting by criminals of our most vulnerable residents is sickening.
“The more aware we all are about this issue, the better, so we can make a point of looking out for our neighbours – especially those who are older or vulnerable. Please give our top 6 tips on this page to anyone you think might benefit from having it.”
If a stranger calls:
- if in any doubt, keep them out: do not open the door
- if you do answer the front door, lock your back door first, and close windows
- use a spy hole, camera doorbell or door-chain to check who the caller is
- ask to see the person’s identification, even if they have made an appointment to see you
- ask them why they are there. And, if you are unsure about their story or identification, call their company yourself (not on a number they provide) – if you do this, shut the door while you are doing so. A genuine caller will not mind
- if you are still unsure, ask the caller to return another time when someone you trust can be with you.