Surrey Police is warning residents in North Surrey to be on their guard following a number of rogue trader incidents over the last week.
Residents are being urged to remain vigilant and to keep an eye out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours following a number of incidents in Hersham, West Molesey and Walton-on-Thames.
Two men introducing themselves as neighbours persuaded an elderly man in Hersham to part with a cheque for £7,000 for cleaning leaves from his gutters last Thursday (2 May). The men are described as white, in their 30s, approximately 6 ft 2 tall, of medium build, with short brown hair.
An elderly woman in West Molesey was also targeted by a man who knocked on her front door and asked for £2,400 to dig up her front garden in order to carry out sewage works. She refused and he left without receiving any payment. The man was described as white, in his late 30s, with dark hair and wearing a fluorescent jacket.
The final incident also took place in West Molesey, with the informant reporting their neighbour had received callers at the door asking for £3,500 for roofing work. Unfortunately the victim suffers from dementia and could not provide any further details about what had taken place.
An elderly woman was also targeted in Walton-on-Thames last Wednesday (1 May). Two men knocked on her door and said they had done work on her roof and were waiting for it to settle before putting sealant on it, and that she owed them £400. They eventually left without receiving any payment after the victim said she did not have the money. The men were described as white, in their 30s, 6 ft 2 tall, of medium build with short light brown hair and spoke with southern English accents.
Surrey Police would like to remind residents of the following advice:
- Not sure? Don’t open the door!
- Check the identity of the doorstep caller by telephoning the company they are purporting to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider.
- Check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Schemes or the Government Trust Mark scheme.
- Discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader.
- Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out.
- Never pay cash up front and don’t ever go to the bank or cash point with a trader.
- If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999.
Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant Andy Grapsas said: “We are reminding residents to be vigilant but more importantly, asking them to keep an eye on their elderly and vulnerable neighbours, who are more commonly targeted by these rogue traders. To con the most vulnerable members of our communities out of money in this way is utterly despicable and we are determined to do all we can, in conjunction with Surrey Trading Standards, to identify those responsible and ensure they are brought to justice.”
Steve Playle, Investigations and Enforcement Manager at Surrey Trading Standards said: “Incidents of this nature remind us all to be alert to the activities of cold callers. Our advice is to never ever deal with anyone who turns up uninvited on your doorstep. Ask them to leave, no matter how plausible they appear to be.”
Mr Playle added: “We have an excellent door sticker pack that is available to all Surrey residents which will help deter cold calling traders. You can pick one up at your local police station, local council office or by calling 03456 009 009.”
Roger Nield adds, “In Runnymede such things are mercifully rare but recently we have had two recent instances where the vulnerable elderly in Virginia Water have been targetted. Thanks to great work from local neighbours, Runnymede Borough Council’s Safer Runnymede Team and local police three men have been arrested. I can’t say more as the matter is now in the hands of the court. However I would like to thank everyone involved in preventing these pernicious crimes and being good neighbours. The victim is OK”.