Cheshire Police are warning the public to be vigilant of bogus callers as part of a national burglary awareness campaign.
ACPO′s burglary awareness campaign, running to December, features three themed weeks. From the 26th- 30th November, the focus is on distraction burglary. Police forces will be undertaking positive action to target thieves and sharing crime prevention advice with the public.
Distraction burglary is any crime where a falsehood, trick or distraction is used on an occupant of a dwelling to gain, or try to gain, access to the premises to commit burglary.
Investigations have shown that distraction burglars are usually members of highly organised crime groups who deliberately travel extensively throughout the UK in order to commit crime.
In September 2012, a 34-year-old woman was jailed for two years following a distraction burglary in Cheshire.
The offender knocked on the door of a property and asked the householder, an elderly lady, for a glass of water. While the victim was in the kitchen, the offender stole her purse.
ACPO lead on burglary, Nottinghamshire Police′s Assistant Chief Constable Paul Broadbent said: "We have chosen to focus on distraction burglaries this week because this crime can have a profoundly negative effect on victim′s lives. Research has found that 40 per cent of victims reported a change in their quality of life.
"We also know that this is an under-reported crime: research suggests that less than 10% of these types of crimes are reported to the police. Although there is potential for anyone to be a victim, the most typical victim is 77 years old, female and lives alone. They often feel embarrassed, intimidated and are scared of losing their independence. I want to reassure people that the police will do all that they can to support and protect victims who do come forward.
"Police are working hard to tackle distraction burglary and will continue to do so but we want to use this week to alert people to this crime. If you remember anything about distraction burglary, let it be: if you′re not sure, don′t open the door. Please pass this message on to anyone that you think could be vulnerable to distraction burglary."
Although a real threat, the police have seen a big reduction in distraction burglary while detecting more offenders. In 2006/07, nearly 13,000 offences were recorded with a detection rate of 11%. In 2011/12, just under 5,000 were recorded with a detection rate of 21%.
ACC Paul Broadbent urges: "Take these simple steps to protect yourself and share them with family, friends or neighbours- anyone you think could be at risk. Let′s work together to make it harder for criminals to get away with distraction burglary."
· Check the identity of callers by calling the company they claim to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory, online or provided independently by your service provider. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller − they may be bogus.
· Telephone a neighbour or friend nearby to come along and check out the caller before you open the door to them.
· The "Waterboard" has not existed for 28 years; turn away anyone purporting to be from it.
· Keep cash in the bank where it is secure.
· Consider storing valuable jewellery in bank deposit box - contact your bank for details.
· 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, while you′re distracted another person may sneak in through an open door.
· If somebody asks for your help, needs to make a telephone call, needs a drink or wants directions, don′t feel pressurised into letting them in. Help through a closed door, refer them to a younger neighbour or call to ask someone to assist.
· Not sure? Don′t open the door.
For more information and advice about how to protect your home from burglary, visit the Cheshire Police website: http://www.cheshire.police.uk.