We are in that season again where the weather is good and all the maintenance jobs on our homes is needed, such as gardening, driveway repairs and other minor building repair work.
It is therefore a timely reminder that we all need to be on the lookout for people who are seeking to expose vulnerable people by approaching them to do work on their homes and charging large sums of money.
There are many people in our communities who are unable to do work themselves and their homes will have the appearance that work is needed, such as overgrown gardens, or roof tiles which need replacing. It is exactly these signs which criminals will look to expose and they drive around to find these homes and then approach the owners and offer to do work for them.
Distraction burglary happens when someone will call at your home and talk with you and make up a story about a fault with the drains or something similar and ask to come into your house to check the plumbing. They will stay with you whilst another person who you have no seen, will enter the house too and steal.
This is one type of crime that can happen mainly to the elderly or vulnerable people in our community.
Another type of exploitation is overcharging for work which is also a crime committed against mainly older people, but a common factor in these types of crime are that the victims will often have dementia or a similar mental illness.
Criminals are known to ask for large sums of money for a very small amount of work and they will ask to be driven by the victim to their bank for the cash to be taken out.
Fortunately banks are very aware of these incidents and there have been some excellent examples of staff keeping the people in the bank and engaging them in conversation, whilst another member of staff calls the police.
Criminals have become aware of the banks being quite effective in combating this type of crime, but there are still many people who do not trust their money in a bank and prefer to keep it at home, so these types of crime will still happen and the criminals will ask for the money directly. Whilst it may not be as much as they could have got from a bank, it is still a large sum of money and these crimes can have life-changing consequences for the victims, who can hand over a lot of their savings and they are not at a stage of life where they can recover financially.
We all have people around us who are from the older generation or vulnerable and I know that many people will look out for their neighbour`s; Neighbourhood Watch is often at the front of crime prevention too, but whilst we are in this season, it is worth us all thinking about the crime opportunities which are created and it may be simple things like cutting a neighbours grass or talking to them about using trusted work people which can prevent some of these crimes.
Only this week I was doing some work at my father`s home, where he needed some tress cutting back and it came to mind about the risks that older people can be exposed to.
The safest way is to use people you know, or a friend or family member has recommended, otherwise use someone from a trusted website.
Always avoid the people who make a direct approach, and especially anyone who asks to come into your home which must be avoided at all cost.
Below are some links for more information which you may find useful and can share with anyone you think may be in need of advice.
Some accounts to consider include:
@HantsTS (Hampshire Trading Standards
@hantsconnect (Hampshire County Council)
@SouthamptonCC (Southampton City Council)
@portsmouthtoday (Portsmouth City Council)
@iwight (Isle of Wight Council)
@actionfrauduk (Action Fraud)
@HMRCgovuk (HM Revenue and Customs)