IN this month’s column I’d like to talk about distraction burglary. This can take a number of forms but is carried out by criminals who deliberately target the most vulnerable members of our communities.
It involves criminals posing as genuine callers, frequently claiming to be officials from a utility company, such as water, electricity or gas, to gain entry into a person’s home. Once inside, one of the callers distracts the homeowner, while another searches for money and valuable items to steal.
A variation of distraction burglary involves criminals posing as reputable tradespeople who offer to undertake repair work on a person’s property. They do the work badly – if at all – and put people under extreme pressure to pay.
Anyone can be the victim of a distraction crime but older, vulnerable people are at most risk. Research shows that 67 per cent of victims are female, 74 per cent of victims live alone and the average victim is 80 years old.
Fortunately the majority of people, after the initial shock of the crime, make a full recovery. For a small minority, the most vulnerable, the consequences can be very serious and long term.
To help combat doorstep crime, and in particular distraction burglaries, West Mercia Police launched its Knock Knock campaign. This aims to provide simple advice to householders and encourages neighbours to look out for each other and make life difficult for doorstep criminals. We are committed to reducing the number of distraction burglaries and rogue callers and work closely with trading standards officers from local authorities and utility companies to bring offenders to justice with joint enforcement and crime prevention initiatives.
To find out more information about how you can protect yourself and what to look out for go to the West Mercia Police website at www.westmercia.police.uk or speak to your Local Policing Team.
INSPECTOR PAUL CROWLEY, Kidderminster Police