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1 July 2010, 05:25
Police have been stopping vehicles and traders across Kent to make sure they are not conning people by doing unnecessary work.
The operation is part of Rogue Traders week which is aimed at identifying doorstep traders who carry out substandard work then demand lots of money - these people usually target the vulnerable and elderly.
Kent Police's Superintendent Neil Jerome of the Partnership and Crime Reduction unit says: “Kent Police has recently secured the conviction of two men who preyed on the elderly and vulnerable members of our communities as they carried out their work as rogue traders and conned individuals out of a total of £1.1million.
"These men exploited their victims by building up a level of trust which they then abused by demanding huge amounts of money for work that was either never carried out, or was substandard.
"Moses Mead and Christopher Latty are awaiting sentence on 9 July.
"Doorstep traders often give an initial cheap price to secure the job, but often the quality is poor and the final price is much higher than originally quoted.
“It is emotionally and financially devastating to those residents who have put their trust in a trader who does not deliver. Many may be unable to afford to get the work put right."
Superintendent Jerome adds: “We are working with our partner agencies today to stop traders and check they were who they say they were using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).
"Traders will be reminded of various pieces of legislation, including that it is an offence not to include their name and address on business paperwork, such as invoices, quotes and receipts."
Reduce the risk of being a victim
To try and minimise your risk of employing a rogue trader:
Kent County Council's Director of Community Safety and Regulatory Services Clive Bainbridge said: "We work hard to crackdown on rogue traders and these initiatives help raise awareness of what is being done to make Kent and its residents safer. The Buy with Confidence scheme has traders who are approved by Kent Trading Standards and it can help prevent people being ripped off and left distressed by the actions of rogue traders."
Medway Council's Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Enforcement Cllr Mike O’ Brien said: “We are committed to protecting vulnerable members of the community by showing rogue traders operating in Medway the red card.
“Residents should feel safe when they employ a contractor, but rogue traders cause unnecessary distress through poor workmanship and bad practices.
“I would urge anyone who needs a trader to use one of the 250 companies available through the council’s Fair Trader Scheme. The scheme gives access to reputable and reliable companies and is the best way to avoid falling prey to shoddy services and misleading prices."
There are 'Cold Calling Controlled Zones' in operation around the country to protect older and vulnerable people from traders who call at properties without warning. Street signs are displayed notifying cold callers that they are not welcome and their identification will be checked. Residents are also given door stickers and crime prevention advice.
Kent Police supports the county's Neighbourhood Watch and its 'nominated neighbour' scheme. Homeowners can hold up a card giving details of a nominated neighbour to traders they do not know. This neighbour can then check the trader's details and return them to the homeowners if they are legitimate.