AS winter draws nearer, St Helens Council is spearheading a new campaign warning of the dangers of doorstep distraction.
Darker nights can sometimes lead to an increase in the number of bogus callers, offering to fit double glazing, repair boilers or tidy gardens.
But often these are merely distraction tactics. They may then ask to use the toilet or the phone to gain access while an accomplice keeps the householder busy.
The council’s Safer Communities and Trading Standards teams have joined forces with Merseyside Police, the Citizens Advice Bureau and security product supplier SmartWater to support National Consumer Week (12-19 November), which this year has Cold Calling – Don’t Buy it as its theme.
Merseyside Police will be speaking to residents in local neighbourhoods to promote the use of SmartWater – property-marking liquid containing a unique code that can be seen under ultraviolet light.
Partner agencies will also be appearing at venues to warn people about answering their door to cold callers - and to encourage use of the council’s Trader Register - which lists reputable traders across the borough. To see the full list go to www.sthelens.gov.uk/traderregister.
The sessions take place on:
Wednesday, November 14 (1pm to 4pm) at Eccleston Library
Thursday, November 15 (9am to 12.30pm) at the Hardshaw Centre in the town centre.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Protection and Safer Communities Councillor Richard McCauley said: “Although distraction burglary isn’t a huge problem in St.Helens, as the nights get longer, winter can bring an increase in door-to-door sales, some of which might not be all they seem.
“But as well as bogus tradesmen, people should also be on their guard against seemingly innocuous callers – people claiming to have lost a ball in your garden, offering to carry out repair work or pretending to be from a charity, energy company, the council or even the police.”
Suspicious about a caller? Follow these simple steps top stay safe.
l Always use your spy hole or chain
l Not sure - don’t answer the door
l Say NO to anyone selling goods or service
l All electricity‚ gas and water companies have a doorstep password scheme - if you haven’t already done so - contact them to set one up
l Do not keep large amounts of money at home, or valuables on show.
l Report bogus cold callers to Merseyside Police on 101