People are not always who they say they are
When we think of burglars, we often think of mysterious people in hoodies breaking in in the dead of night or when we’re not at home, doing their best to stay out of sight. However, not all burglars are so shy: some come right up to the front door and greet you with a smile.
‘Bogus caller’ is a term for a burglar who uses distraction techniques to gain access to your home or trick you into giving them money. They are as bold as brass and often very convincing, especially when their victims are vulnerable (their favourite kind).
Common distraction burglary strategies
The tricks that bogus callers use are quite common in theme and usually involve one of the following guises:
- Posing as tradesmen – pretending to be from the council, come to read the meter, claiming to be doing work at a neighbour’s and need to access adjacent properties etc. They may also offer to do work for you such as clear guttering, tidy your garden up or tell you that work urgently needs doing such as repointing brick work or repairing windows
- Claiming to have lost a pet – they may say they think their cat has become trapped in your garage or that their dog had run into your garden and could they check. In the meantime, an accomplice could be sneaking in while you’re distracted with them
- Saying they’ve broken down – they may claim that their car has broken down and they want to use your phone to call for help
How to tell if a caller is bogus
These people can be very convincing, and they will often dress in a way that supports their claims such as a uniform or work overalls with a logo. If they claim to be tradesmen or from an organisation such as the council or police, ask to see their ID. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their ID and check with the organisation by telephone if you’re not sure. Remember that phone numbers on fake ID could also be fake so find the number yourself (it may be worth keeping a list of phone numbers for organisations such as the council, water provider and energy company handy for such a situation).
Remember that these would-be intruders are not always men. Women and even children can be involved as they’re often more trusted.
Other important precautions to take against bogus callers
As well as checking who people say they are, take these steps to protect your home and perhaps even prevent them calling in the first place:
- Always keep doors locked. If someone comes to the front door, they may have an accomplice who will try to sneak in at the back door while you’re occupied. Make sure there are no other ways in
- Never agree to having work done by someone who comes to the door. If you need jobs doing it is much better to shop around and find your own tradespeople so you can assess them properly. Even if they are genuinely offering services, you really don’t know how good they are
- Anyone coming to do something in your home such as service the boiler or install a smart meter (for example) should always have an appointment. Don’t let anyone in if you’re not aware they were coming
- Speaking of smart meters, if you take advantage of energy suppliers installing them for free, it would mean that nobody would need to come to read the meter again so you would always know that anyone claiming to be doing this in the future was a fake (see more information about the pros and cons of smart meters first though)
- Display a sign on your day instructing people that you don’t accept cold callers or salespeople. This denies people the opportunity to use the most common cover stories and will put many off from even approaching your home. You can download a free ‘No Cold Callers’ sign here to print out
- Have a security chain installed on your door so that you don’t have to open it fully. If you have a spy hole, check who it is before you open the door
- If someone claims their pet may be on your property, offer to look for them and take a number but don’t allow them in
- Make sure you don’t keep keys or valuables near the door. Items can be grabbed while you’re distracted and if they take keys, they could come back later and just let themselves in
- An intercom system, especially a video system, would allow you to check who’s at the door without even having to go to it, never mind open it. This could be particularly useful for older, vulnerable or disabled people
With Christmas coming up, and people having more cash and gifts in the house, we are likely to see an increase in attempts at distraction burglary so be vigilant for anyone approaching your home.
If you would like more information about home security please browse the website or contact us on 0800 612 9799.