North Yorkshire police is launching a new awareness campaign to target bogus callers and help prevent distraction burglaries.
The campaign is centred around a video, which has been funded by the sale of a vehicle owned by a gang of convicted distraction burglars. The cash has also helped fund supporting material for older and vulnerable people to help suss out these unwanted callers.
Distraction burglary happens when someone calls at your door and pretends to be an official form a company. This can often be a plumber; someone from the council and in some cases even the police. They deceive people and distract them whilst rummaging through peoples houses stealing valuables and money.
The film sends out an important message to it’s viewers, the film shows a typical distraction burglary taking place and the repercussions it can have on the victims and their families.
Distraction burglars often target elderly and vulnerable people; the campaign will raise awareness on how these cowardly criminals operate and what to do when an unexpected person calls at their door.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Smith leads the campaign and has headed a countrywide investigation that led to the arrest of three bogus police officers that were jailed for 21 years. He said, “A distraction burglary is one of the most cowardly crimes we have to deal with. Those who target vulnerable, older people who are both trusting and often frail deserve, and receive our fullest attention.”
The message is simply, ‘Not sure? Don’t open the door!’ When you answer the door you have no obligation to let anyone you do not know into your house, so if you are unsure then don’t let them in.
Ch Insp Smith added, “By raising awareness among older people that it is not rude to refuse to allow someone in their house who they don’t know, we want to prevent this type of crime happening in North Yorkshire and the City of York. Having investigated a series of such offences across the country, I have seen only too well, the effect it has on older people. They can become withdrawn, their health can deteriorate and in some very sad cases they never recover from their ordeal.”
The city of York and North Yorkshire have one of the lowest crime rates in the country, this campaign will hopefully help to maintain this. Although distraction burglaries are not that common in the county, when it does happen it can lead to devastating consequences for victims and their families.
Ch Insp Smith advices that people should lock their doors and refuse entry to anyone they do not know, “Remember, that if you ever feel threatened by a caller, you must ring the police on 999 – don’t hesitate.”
As part of the campaign it is also important to make sure that family and friends are aware of the dangers that older and vulnerable people face, Ch Insp added, “We want family members of older and vulnerable people to help them understand that it is not rude to refuse to let people into their homes. Encouraging them to get into the habit of always locking their doors and a door chain or spy-hole is another simple way to prevent these offences”
The film will be shown at a variety of events across North Yorkshire and the City of York, by police officers and PCSOs. A shorter, silent version of the film will also be shown in seven libraries across North Yorkshire.
A workshop is also being embedded into the Crucial Crew events held across the county for year six pupils, which will show them how to prevent distraction burglaries.
If you are involved in any groups or organisations involving older or vulnerable people and want an officer to present the film, give advice and hand out free door hangers, then get in touch with your local Safer Neighbourhood team.
You can visit the website for more advice and tips on Bogus callers and distraction burglary here and the video is below.