Sheffield schoolchildren help police in crackdown against doorstep crime

Officers from Sheffield’s Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, in conjunction with Trading Standards, have launched their latest initiative “Operation Know” aimed at preventing and deterring doorstep crime.

The initiative involves children from around 13 primary and infant schools in Sheffield, distributing crime prevention information about doorstep crime and cold calling, to elderly people they know, to stop them becoming a victim.

Doorstep crime includes distraction burglars, bogus callers and rogue traders, where people target the elderly and vulnerable, calling at a house with the intention of distracting people and tricking their way in to the house to steal money and other valuables.

The impact of this type of crime can be devastating, with some victims loosing large sums of money, even their life savings, and sentimental items to these criminals.

Inspector Darren Starkey, from the Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "Most primary school children will have a grandparent or know an elderly person who lives near to them. We are asking the children, if they do know an elderly or vulnerable person to provide them with the crime prevention advice and give them a no cold calling sticker to display in their window or door to deter potential offenders.

"We are also working with housing providers to identify further elderly residents, who may benefit from our prevention advice and look into the possibility of making their home into a “No Cold Calling Zone."

Tina Weston from Trading Standards said: “Being the victim of a rogue trader or a bogus caller is very distressing and people feel too embarrassed to report an incident or they simply don't know who to contact. Our No Cold Calling Zone initiative provides information to homeowners on how to deal with doorstep callers, report suspicious incidents to the Police or Trading Standards or simply seek advice and help.”

To help prevent doorstep crime, South Yorkshire Police offer the following advice.

• Always keep the front and back doors locked at all times, even when at home.

• Think about whether you are expecting anyone and look through the window before answering the door.

• If you do not know the caller, DONT OPEN THE DOOR!

• Always check ID carefully and contact the company to see if that person should be at your house. If in doubt, do not let the person into your house.

• Police advise residents not to store large sums of money in their home.

• Do not accept cold callers in relation to building repairs. If you are interested in what they have to offer get a contact number and call them back after you have checked details out with other reputable trade's people.

Police are urging residents to be vigilant, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. The message is simple, keep your doors locked and don’t let strangers into your home unless you have verified their identity, and if in doubt don’t let them in.

Anyone with any information about this type of crime is encouraged to contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For more crime prevention advice, you can visit www.southyorks.police.uk and click on the help and advice tab, then select crime prevention advice.