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Distraction Burglaries


What are distraction burglars?

Distraction burglars normally work in pairs. Their aim is to distract you and trick their way into your home to steal your money or valuables.

They may call at your door posing as officials, claiming to be from the council, police, market researchers, health carers, gas, water, electricity, phone or TV companies. Others may try a tactic of taking advantage of your good nature by saying they are collecting for charity, or they need something from your house such as water for their car, a pen and paper to leave a note for a neighbour, they want to retrieve a ball that has gone in your garden, or need to use your phone.

They can also use a tactic of feigning urgency and panic - a typical ploy is where they say something like "we're from the Water Board; there is a burst pipe in the street and we need to come in and switch your water off immediately."

They may be very convincing, charming and persuasive. They can be young, old, male or female or even young children. They can appear official and may be smartly dressed with uniforms, official looking paperwork and fake ID's.

Elderly and vulnerable people, who are more trusting and often frail, are the main target of these despicable and cowardly criminals, and the consequences can be devastating for the victim and their families. Victims can become withdrawn, their health can deteriorate and in some very sad cases they never recover from their ordeal. Older people should be allowed to live in peace without suffering the distress which these people cause.

The following video was made by Yorkshire Police; it shows a reconstruction of a typical distraction burglary and the effect it has on the victim and her family.

Tips to keep safe

The message is simple, if in doubt, keep them out.

1. LOCK - keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home
2. STOP - are you expecting anyone? 
3. CHAIN - if you decide to open the door, put the chain on first
4. CHECK - ask for the caller's ID and check it by phone

  • Encourage older people to get into the habit of always locking their doors and by using a door chain or spy-hole.
  • Telephone a neighbour, or a nearby friend, and ask them to come along to help check out the caller before you open the door to them.
  • Insist on checking the identity of the caller. If they are genuine, they will not mind waiting or returning later. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller as they may be bogus. 
  • Don't keep large quantities of cash at home; put it in the bank or post office where it is safe.
  • Remember, it is not rude to refuse letting a stranger into your home.

Further information and advice can be found by clicking here.

You may also find details about the Nominated Neighbour Scheme useful.

If you feel threatened by a caller, always ring 999. If you have had an incident and did not report it, please do so by telephoning 101.

More about Safe Local Trades

Safe Local Trades 0800 014 1832 Allia Future Business Centre, Peterborough United Football Club, Peterborough, Cambs, PE2 8AN