Preventing doorstep crime
Doorstep crime is the name given to crimes carried out by bogus callers and rogue traders who call uninvited at people’s homes under the guise of legitimate business or trade.
This can be a particularly distressing type of crime because the perpetrator may have directly deceived you in getting into your home or extracting money from you. Victims are often older or vulnerable people, and may be left feeling betrayed, foolish and very distressed.
- Make sure you can see who is at the door before you answer it. Where possible fit a spy-hole to identify callers. Alternatively talk to them through an adjacent windows
- Don’t feel pressured into opening the door. Don’t feel you are being rude, genuine callers won’t mind
- Remember that sadly not everyone is who they say they are, or may have ulterior motives, especially if they knock at your door to point out a supposed problem, such as damage to your roof
- Don’t let people you don’t know into your home, even if they say they need help. If more than one person is at the door, one may try to keep you talking while the other slips away to see what they can steal
- Set up passwords with your utility companies, genuine callers will need to recite this password to you. Always ask to see an ID card too
- Don’t use telephone numbers on ID cards, if the person isn’t genuine the ID and the telephone number won't be either. Obtain telephone numbers direct from the phone directory. Alternatively make a list of your important numbers and keep them near the phone
- If you’re still not sure that a caller is who they say they are, turn them away. Legitimate companies and callers will not mind
- Display a ‘No Cold Callers’ sticker on your door or in your window
- Contact the Northamptonshire Police crime prevention team if you’d like to talk to someone about protecting yourself against doorstep crime
Remember: If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.
Protecting someone you care for
Every day in Northamptonshire, people are at risk of falling victim to doorstep crime. Most of the victims are elderly or vulnerable. Whether you are caring for a family member, working as a professional in community care or safety, or just keeping an eye out for a neighbour, you may be the only person that has regular contact with them and can play a vital role in preventing them from becoming a victim:
- Make the person aware that they are never required to open their door to unexpected callers and that it’s not rude to send someone away
- Reinforce the message “If you’re not sure, don’t open the door”
- Explain the tactics used by rogue doorstep traders and distraction burglars. Find more information on these in our downloadable leaflet
- Encourage the person to set up passwords with their utility companies
- Try to ensure that the outside of the property is well maintained, including the garden. Properties that are poorly maintained may be targeted
- Advise the person not to keep money in the house and to keep credit cards, debit cards, cheque books, savings books and other valuables in a safe place
- Display a ‘No Cold Calling’ sticker to discourage unwanted callers
- If you know the person requires some work to be carried out, help them to select a reputable trader by directing them to organisations such as their local Home Improvement Agency, Care and Repair or the Trading Standards ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme
- Reinforce this advice on a regular basis and always ask if anything unusual has happened or whether anyone has called at the property uninvited. We need more
- people on the look-out, so if anything has happened please report it using the 101 number
- In Northamptonshire many agencies have come together to form the Doorstep crime Action Network (DAN). If you have any suspicions or concerns that doorstep rogue traders or distraction burglars are operating in your community or targeting someone you know, please contact our dedicated doorstep crime hotline: 0345 23 07 702
Who to call if in doubt
- If a crime is in progress or you feel imminently threatened dial 999
- Report suspicious callers to the doorstep crime team on 0345 23 07 702
- For non-urgent enquiries or to report any concerns or suspicions call 101
- It’s always worth having a trusted neighbour on call. A genuine caller will not mind being challenged and will be happy to talk with anyone. They will also not mind coming back if you are feeling in any way uncomfortable and will happily pre-arrange an appointment
To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting against doorstep crime email email@example.com
Find more detailed information about doorstep crime and avoiding it by downloading our guide below.