Sep 21 2012 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
They abuse the trust of the vulnerable and elderly to con them out of money.
But now police are saying enough is enough and are waging war on bogus callers and workmen.
A three-week campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the tricks they use to carry out what officers see as one of the worst crimes.
And the Kilmarnock area has been a regular target.
• In May, a 78-year-old woman was at home in Kilmarnock when a man came to the door, claiming to have done gardening work for her in the past.
She allowed him into the house, where he stole her purse and cash.
A 23-year-old man was tracked down and charged with the theft, amongst many others.
• In June, a 65-year-old Stewarton man paid out thousands of pounds to a bogus workman to carry out roof repair work. This work took a few minutes and would have cost only a few pounds. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the two men responsible.
• In February, an 85-year-old woman in Kilmarnock handed over £2000 to two men who said they had fixed her roof, with little or no work actually done. The men have been arrested for fraud.
• In June, an 85-year-old lady had £2500 stolen from her home by a man claiming to be from the water authority.
PC Fiona Davidson, of the community safety department, said: “The depressing regularity of these crimes only indicate how vulnerable and trusting elderly people can be.
“Family, friends and carers have a huge part to play in keeping them safe, by watching out for suspicious people, advising the potential victim not to open the door to strangers, and confronting people who don’t have any identification.”
Across the whole of Ayrshire in the last 12 months, police have received 28 reports of bogus callers and workmen with 28 detections. But officers believe many more take place that aren’t reported as the victims are too scared or embarrassed.
PC Davidson said: “Bogus callers usually trick their way into your home to steal. Bogus workmen carry out work that is sub-standard or not required, for an inflated cost.
“In East Ayrshire there have been a number of reported crimes, however, this is believed to be the tip of the iceberg.”
One of the most common is when someone poses as being from a utility company.
PC Davidson said: “This often culminates in the victim letting the suspect in then going into the bathroom to run tap water; believing there to be a burst water main or similar. While they are out of the room, the suspect steals wallets or handbags and purses, and leaves.
“A similar method is to call at someone’s door, claiming to need a glass or water or to use the toilet.
“Being polite, the victim often obliges – then find their cash stolen.”
People are advised to ask for a caller’s ID and not answer or let them in if they are unsure.
For advice, contact Kilmarnock Police on 01563 505000.