If In Doubt , Keep them Out!

Merseyside Police, St. Helens Council and Community Safety Partners in St Helens are re-enforcing the message ‘if in doubt, keep them out’ following a number of incidents involving people posing as officials from the water or gas board, or using other excuses – such as bogus builders or roofers - to gain access to people's homes.

Chief Inspector Keith McLachlan said: "This type of crime is despicable; bogus callers are often involved in distraction burglary, and victims of this type of crime can suffer terribly both emotionally and physically - seriously affecting their trust and faith in people afterwards."

"I would urge residents to be extra vigilant when answering the door to strangers no matter who they say they are and always request to see identification before letting anyone into your home. Don’t worry about offending someone, a genuine caller should not have any problem with producing their ID and would not mind waiting.”

Many people who call at your door are genuine but some are not. Therefore it is vital to take precautions when you answer the door:

  • Always make sure visitors to your home are who they say they are by asking to see their identification;
  • Do not let people into your property that you do not know. Bogus callers may pretend to be an official or a builder, or may just ask for a drink of water or if they can use the toilet;
  • Remember to close and lock the back door before answering the front door;
  • The best defence against a bogus caller is to have a viewer or spy hole and a strong door chain fitted to your door;
  • If you're not sure who is at your door, don't open it;
  • If the caller claims to be from the electricity, gas or water company, ask them to quote your customer reference number. 
  • A genuine caller from these utility companies will be able to quote these numbers;
  • Check the identity of the caller by calling the company they are claiming to be from i.e. police, Council or gas, electricity, roofing or water companies.
  • Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller, as they may be bogus – instead refer to your local directory;
  • Many utility service providers like gas, electricity and water, provide password schemes for customers - sign up to these. When unannounced callers claiming to be from these utility providers call at your door they should know the password if they are genuine;
  • 'Water Boards' no longer exist, it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus callers;
  • Don't keep large quantities of cash at home, put it in the bank where it is safe;
  • Ensure that if you do let somebody in to your home, that you close the door behind them - distraction burglars often work in teams, where one will distract you whilst others sneak in through the insecure door; and;
  • If somebody asks for your help ( ie needs to make a telephone call, lost a ball in your garden, needs a drink or pen and paper) refer them to a younger neighbour or assist them through a closed door or call a friend or neighbour to come and help.”

Councillor Susan Murphy, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, Neighbourhoods and Youth says: “Merseyside Police is urging residents to contact them if they think a bogus caller has deceived them, don't feel ashamed or embarrassed – these offenders are convincing liars and anyone can be misled. Help and support is available from the police, Council, and utility companies, so please make sure you use the services available to prevent you from becoming a victim. We can only catch bogus callers with your information.”

For further advice about bogus officials, please call your local neighbourhood team on 0151 709 6010. Anyone who has information about this kind of burglary is urged to contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.