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Actions to tackle distraction burglaries

Published on:

01 June 2016

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Burglars who trick their way into houses and prey on the elderly and vulnerable are being targeted by the police and Enfield Council.

Burglars who trick their way into houses and prey on the elderly and vulnerable are being targeted by the police and Enfield Council.

A new campaign called 'When a Stranger Calls' aims to make people aware of the tactics used by fraudsters and how they can prevent themselves from becoming victims.

A distraction burglary happens when one or more criminals trick or distract someone so they can get into their home and commit a burglary. The caller can be male or female, any age or appearance and may worry or trick a person into letting them in by making up stories. They may pose as tradespeople, council or other officials or police officers.

To help protect from this kind of crime Enfield Council and the Metropolitan Police recommend residents take the following precautions:

  • Think before you open the door, use your chain and spy hole;
  • Ask callers for proof of identity and check it, if you are unsure, phone the company the caller claims to represent – use the phone number in the phone book or on the internet, not the one on the identity card;
  • If you are in any doubt do not let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend or relative to be present on their return;
  • If you are still worried dial 999 and ask for the police.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Public Health, Cllr Krystle Fonyonga, said:  "This type of crime is despicable and victims of distraction burglary can suffer terribly both emotionally and physically. Statistically, most people who are victims of this crime are elderly. Sadly, many also suffer a decline in health afterwards, and the experience can seriously affect their trust and faith in people. 

"It is therefore absolutely vital that people remember to check the identity of every single stranger who calls at their home, genuine callers should not mind waiting. Help and support is available from the police, local authorities, and utility companies so please make sure you use it."

Carl Robinson, Borough Commander for Enfield Police said: "Burglary, particularly distraction burglary, will always be a priority for the police because of the impact it has. We will always follow up on all leads on this type of crime, so if you or anybody you know ever becomes a victim, please tell us as soon as possible so we can target the people committing these offences and put them behind bars."

In an emergency call 999, for all other enquiries call 101.