Hundreds conned out of thousands of pounds by bogus workmen
The Beat Doorstep Crime campaign team with police and Citizens Advice.
By Bill Heaney
Detectives in West Dunbartonshire are appealing for information after an elderly Clydebank woman was conned out of her life savings. Around noon on Wednesday, May 16, two men went to the door of an 86-year-old woman’s house in Melfort Avenue, Clydebank. They pretended to be workmen in order to gain access to her home. As one of the men distracted the woman with a story about what work needed to be done in her home. His accomplice sneaked into the house and stole a four-figure sum of money. Both men then made off.
The first suspect is described as in his 40/50s with white/grey hair brushed forward. He has an average build and is around 6 ft. tall. He was wearing a long blue sleeved top and spoke with a local accent. The second man is described as around 5 ft. 9 inches in height with medium dark length hair. He was wearing a long grey sleeved hooded top with a zip and dark coloured trousers.
Officers have been carrying out door-to-door enquiries and are checking CCTV footage from in and around the area. Detective Constable Alec Stuart said: “Given the recent spell of hot weather, there may have been many people out sitting in their gardens or out for a walk and you may have seen these two men in the area. It’s not unusual to see workmen, but these two men were intent on scamming local residents. I have nothing but contempt for these types of criminals who target elderly people in their homes, a place where they should feel safe. I am appealing to anyone who has any information to contact us. Please think back, did you notice these two men and think nothing of it at the time, any small piece of information could assist us in finding the men responsible for this despicable crime. “
Anyone with information is asked to contact CID officers at Clydebank Police Station via 101, quoting incident number 1628 of Wednesday 16 May 2018. Alternatively, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be given anonymously. Anyone can be a victim of a bogus caller or rogue trader – so don’t let your doorstep be their marketplace.
That’s the message to every single homeowner and tenant in Scotland, as Police Scotland launch a two-week campaign to raise awareness. Between April and September 2017, 336 victims of doorstep crime were defrauded out of around £420,000. While most victims were considered vulnerable in some way (54%), or were of pensionable age (79%), a significant proportion were outwith these groups which are traditionally targeted by such offenders.
During the campaign, which is running between 21st May and 3rd June, officers across Scotland will be running events and stalls to speak to the public at key locations such as banks, garden centres and supermarkets, as well as events giving advice to partner organisations and their clients such as care providers, groups that support those with dementia, and Citizens Advice Scotland. Operational work such as victim visits and warrants will be carried out during this period, and a series of videos will be running on social media with victims telling their real-life stories.
Chief Superintendent John McKenzie of Police Scotland Safer Communities said: “We are carrying out a wide range of activities in order to reach as many people as possible, because bogus callers and rogue traders are indiscriminate. They will call at any house they can, looking to con the occupant and line their own pockets.
“The more vulnerable in our society do continue to be the main target for these fraudsters and I would urge people to please look out for their elderly or otherwise vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours – but please also spare a thought for yourself. These criminals can be very plausible and persuasive and it can be easy to be taken in by them.
“There are simple steps you can take when a cold caller arrives at your door, such as using a door chain so as not to let them into your home, or checking their identity by independent means – but if you are concerned, please do not feel embarrassed to report this to police as it’s only by receiving these reports that we can build a picture of the fraudulent activity and take action. Call 999 if you feel scared or intimidated.
“Please be alert as these opportunists are making a living from defrauding the public and constantly move from place to place to carry out their con – bogus callers and rogue traders will unfortunately be found on a street near you but together we can bring down their criminal enterprise and keep our communities safe.”
Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Citizens Advice Scotland is delighted to once again back this campaign. With our network of 60 CABs across Scotland and our specialist consumer helpline, we are well-placed to play a key part in the fight against scams.
“Our advisers regularly hear from people who have been victims of all types of scam, and doorstep crime can be one of the most distressing. Our message today is that people should be vigilant in spotting scams and should feel empowered to report any doorstep scams they experience or hear about. As ever, the CAB service is here to help.”