Distraction Burglary Campaign Launches

4 March 2010, 13:15 | Updated: 5 March 2010, 07:36

‘Not Sure?...Dont Open The Door’ is the message at the heart of the Operation Liberal campaign to make people aware of the tactics used by distraction burglars and how they can protect themselves.

Distraction burglary is where a bogus caller tells lies to con their way into a home to steal possessions, or creates a diversion so an accomplice can sneak in. These criminals often use fake identities including water, gas and electricity company personnel.

In 2009, across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight there were 98 reported distraction burglaries which was a 65 per cent decrease compared to 2008 when 249 offences were reported.

Nationally there was a 34 per cent decrease during the same period.

For Hampshire Constabulary the average number of distraction burglary offences reported per month has reduced from 33 in 2007 to 8 per month in 2009.

South East Regional lead for Distraction Burglary Detective Chief Inspector Peter Gallagher said: “Distraction burglars usually target elderly and vulnerable people in our communities and it can often have a devastating effect both emotionally and physically on the victim. We are continually encouraging victims to report incidents of distraction burglary and making people aware of the tactics that people use to get entry in to their homes. It is vital that people check the identity of any stranger who calls at their home and if they have any concerns to call the police immediately.”

Crime prevention tips

  • If you’re not sure who is at your door, don’t open it. Check the identity of the caller by calling the company they are purporting to be from i.e. police, council or gas, electricity, water companies. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller, as they may be bogus.
  • Many utility service providers like gas, electricity and water, provide password schemes for customers, sign up to these. When unannounced callers claiming to be from these utility providers call at your door they should know the password if they are genuine.
  • ‘Water Boards’ no longer exist, it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus callers.
  • Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home; put it in the bank where it is safe.
  • Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times.
  • Ensure that if you do let somebody in to your home, that you close the door behind them – distraction burglars often work in teams, where one will distract you while others sneak in through the insecure door.
  • If somebody asks for your help (i.e. needs to make a telephone call, lost a ball in your garden, needs a drink or pen and paper) refer them to a younger neighbour or assist them through a closed door or call a friend or neighbour to come and help.
  • If you suspect a bogus caller is at your door call the police immediately.