12 May 2017

“Not sure? Don’t answer the door.” That’s the message from Dyfed-Powys Police as the force takes part in Operation Rogue Trader 2017.

The operation is a national campaign running from May 8 to 12 and is designed to coordinate the country’s efforts in stamping out rogue trading and raising awareness of the issue.

Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques. The work is often expensive, sub-standard and not required at all.

This is the 12th year that organisations as part of a multi-agency campaign have targeted rogue traders and highlighted the dangers that consenting to have work carried out by cold callers can bring. The national day of action on Wednesday was the pinnacle of a week of activities being led by police services and trading standards services.

Officers across Dyfed-Powys Police have carried out joint patrols with trading standards, visited scrap yards, conducted vehicles checks, and called at people’s homes offering advice on what to look out for and what they should do if they answer the door to a cold caller.

DS Sean Johnston said: “Our aim during Operation Rogue Trader Week is to really target those people who prey on the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“Too many people, cold callers can seem like legitimate workmen and traders, but we know they can pressure or trick people into handing over their money – sometimes in very large amounts.

“Our advice is to always be on guard when answering the door to an unknown caller, and think twice about paying for goods or services on your doorstep.

“If in doubt, call the police or trading standards for advice.”

The campaign is being run by Operation Liberal (Police National Intelligence Unit) tackling Cross Border Criminality. The last Rogue Trader Operation in 2016 saw nearly 300 people arrested nationally, nearly £3 million worth of property recovered and more than 5,000 vehicles inspected.

Andy Luckett, office manager from Operation Liberal, said: “Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity as well as highlighting the dangers of rogue trading and doorstep crime.

“As you can imagine those involved in this form of illegal activity do not tend to be law abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By involving a range of different agencies, we can seriously hamper their offending patterns and aim to disrupt their criminal activity and the aim is to get them off the streets.

“Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases is their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When someone falls foul of a rogue trading scam, research shows it has a seriously detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.”

Tim Day, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said:-

“Trading Standards Services throughout the UK continue to combat the crimes associated with cold calling home maintenance traders and professional doorstep fraudsters. We aim to take robust enforcement action to provide a meaningful sanction and deterrent and will, where possible, remove the criminal proceeds and return them to the victims.

“Working closely with partners in the Police and Adults Social Care on interventions, Trading Standards ensures those at risk of victimisation and exploitation are safeguarded and those responsible for the crimes are brought to justice. Rogue Trader week is a key part of the strategy to proactively tackle this type of criminality, and intelligence sharing and joint initiatives between Trading Standards and the Police will continue, ensuring there is no hiding place for the criminals.”

It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door and legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine. Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any distraction burglar or rogue trader should ring 101, 999 in an emergency, or give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you are concerned about unwanted callers in general please contact your neighbourhood policing team for advice.