Police warning to residents after reports of bogus callers

Published on: Friday, 03-January-2014

Detectives in Knowsley are advising elderly and vulnerable people to be on their guard against criminals posing as bogus officials.

Bogus officials are people who come to the door and claim to be from organisations such as utility companies, housing associations or other organisations. They con their way into a home by using a number of excuses which can range from a requirement to read a meter, or to measure up for new kitchen units, and whilst inside they will steal cash or other valuables.

On the evening of Monday, 16 December, incident in Huyton at  a man called at the home of a 93-year-old woman, at about 5.10pm, claiming to be from "the Government". He said he was informing people about purses being stolen and then asked for a cup of sugar. The victim let him in to her home but at this point it is belived that nothing was stolen during this incident.

On the same evening a man called at the homes of four elderly residents in Prescot, claiming to be a plain clothes police officer. He gained entry to one of the four addresses and stole a large amount of cash.

At two of the addresses he claimed he had found someone nearby who had a lot of cash on him, he told the residents that he thought this was suspicious and wanted to check that they were okay and that no money had gone missing. At one of those addresses the 87-year-old female occupant gave him access to her property. The caller asked her to check her purse and to check that her doors and windows were secure, after he left she discovered that her purse which contained a large amount of cash had been stolen.

Officers believe that the incidents in Prescot are linked and the offender(s) called at the addresses in Prescot some time between 8pm and 9.30pm, he is described as a white male, aged in his 40s/50s with short hair and was wearing a three-quarter/anorak type coat.

At this stage officers are keeping an open mind as to whether the incident in Huyton is linked to the ones in Prescot.

Officers are appealing for anyone who has any information which could help them with their inquiries to come forward.

Chief Inspector Matt Boyle from Merseyside Police, said: "I would like to reassure people that this type of offence is rare, but when it does happen it can have a big effect on the victim, particularly as they are often elderly or vulnerable. Most people who call at the door will be genuine but the best defence against bogus officials is to remember, if in doubt, keep them out.”

Merseyside Police is issuing to the following crime prevention advice in relation to people who call at your door and could prevent you, or your family, becoming victims:

  • Remember to close and lock the back door before answering the front door
  • Always ask to see the identification of the person calling
  • If you are in any doubt about the identification shown, phone the company they claim to represent and check - don’t use the phone number they give you, look in the phone book for it
  • Ask the person to wait outside while you check and never leave your front door open while you do so
  • If the caller claims to be from an electricity, gas or water company, ask them to quote your customer reference number.  A genuine caller from these utility companies will have that information
  • If the caller claims to be from the police he/she should have a warrant card and this can be checked by calling Merseyside Police on 101
  • If the caller leaves and you are still unsure about their credibility, write down the details of the person and the registration number and type and colour of vehicle if you know it and contact us on 101
  • For extra security and peace of mind, fit a viewer or spy hole and a strong chain to your door

Anyone with information about bogus officials, whether it is to report a crime or suspicious behaviour, should call Merseyside Police on 101. If you have any information which could help the police in relation to the incidents in Prescot and Huyton call 0151 777 6570, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.