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Police warning over bogus officials

Police in Hertfordshire are warning people to be on their guard against bogus callers.

They say there has been a marked increase in the number of burglars calling door-to-door and posing as water board, council or other officials or workmen.

The Police are particularly concerned about the elderly becoming victims to such criminals.

County wide, in the month leading up to Christmas, there were 82 so called 'distraction burglaries' compared to 40 in the same period in 2000.

Police have introduced extra patrols in an effort to prevent such crimes and are appealing to people to be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious as quickly as possible.

Acting Detective Superintendent, Vic Kerlin said, "It is vitally important that people report incidents or suspicious callers as quickly as possible on 999 as it greatly increases our chances of catching these criminals. We would also ask that neighbours, social workers and other care workers help to warn elderly people and if they suspect that they have been victims of a distraction burglary to help them to report it.

"If you have any doubt about a caller do not let them in. Make sure you have a chain on your door and that you use it. Genuine callers will not be pushy and will not mind you checking their identity or ringing the organisation they say they represent."

The Constabulary has issued the following advice to counter distraction burglaries:



  • Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting anyone.
  • Check that your back door is closed and locked and take the key out.


  • Put the chain or door bar on.
  • Look through the spy hole (if your door has one) or the window to see who it is.
  • Always keep the bar or chain on while you are talking to the person on your doorstep.


  • Ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if they have a prearranged appointment (all genuine callers will carry one).
  • Do they look like the person on the card? Is the name the same one as on your appointment letter. Close the door while you do this.
  • If you are not expecting them and they have not shown you an identity card, do not let them in until you have checked and double-checked that the caller is genuine.
  • Ring the organisation they say they represent to check get the phone number from the phone book, a recent bill or from directory enquiries. Do not be tempted to ring the number on their card it may be a fake.
  • If you are alone and not expecting someone ask them to call back when you can have someone with you.
  • Genuine callers will be happy to make an appointment and will not mind waiting while you check their identity.
  • Only let them in when you are absolutely sure they are genuine.

And if in doubt, keep them out.

January 1, 2002

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