Monday, 18 November 2013

Slam The Door On Rogue Traders

A new campaign has been launched to encourage residents in South Cambridgeshire to slam the door on rogue traders who have been operating in the district.

Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire Police have joined forces to highlight the work of the criminal gangs who target homes in the villages – particularly focussing in on the older or more vulnerable members of the community.

The doorstep conmen are estimated to have cost householders in the district around £1 million in the last year alone.

As a first step to halt the work of the criminals, Council and police officers have been working together to raise awareness of their activities and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s residents’ magazine will include stickers which people can put by their front door to alert callers that they do not buys goods or services on the doorstep.

A similar campaign in Surrey has proved very successful with 90% of people reporting a reduction in cold callers.

Typically cold callers target vulnerable householders asking if the owners want some improvement work carried out, such as fixing or cleaning roof tiles, resurfacing a driveway or felling trees. A verbal estimate is given but when the work is completed the price will rise and the resident is pressurised into paying a very high price for sub-standard work.

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skill, Councillor Mathew Shuter, said: “This kind of criminal is ruthless and deliberately targets the most vulnerable members of our society who they know they can con or intimidate into paying often extortionate amounts for work which is always sub-standard at best.”

The cornerstone of the new campaign is a sticker which is being delivered with the household magazine which sends a clear message to the cold callers that they are not welcome at this address. The magazine will be delivered during the last week of November and first week of December.

Cllr Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Rogue traders can devastate people’s lives and with a high proportion of elderly residents in the district this a campaign we are fully behind. Please look out for the stickers in the next residents’ magazine and if you who know or care for vulnerable people please talk to them about it and report any concerns to Trading Standards or the police.”

A recent Trading Standards and Police operation resulted in five rogue traders being sentenced to a total of more than 28 yeas in prison and the gang was also ordered to pay back £250,000 to their victims.

The men, who preyed on elderly and vulnerable people in South Cambridgeshire and beyond, ripped off over one hundred customers, some of whom handed over their life savings.

Chief Inspector Darren Alderson added: "We will continue to work alongside partner agencies to crack down on this appalling type of crime, which often involves vulnerable victims being defrauded of large sums of money.

"Our advice to residents will always be not to use cold callers and to ask for a business card so you can consider what is being offered at your leisure."

Anyone who suspects a rogue trader has or is operating in their area should contact Crimestoppers at www.crimestopprs-uk.orge or on 0800 555 111, call the police or notify the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 08454 040 506.