Operation Liberal is the national intelligence unit for organised travelling criminality. The operation gathers intelligence on the many crime types committed by those criminals who travel in order to offend. These crime types include those committed on the doorstep including distraction burglary and rogue trading. The victims of these crime types tend to be older people who may or may not be deemed vulnerable.
Rogue trading for property repairs and maintenance concerns incidents where consumers have been ‘cold called’. It refers to the practice of deliberately overcharging for unsatisfactory goods and/or services including charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money
Both of these crime types are vastly under-reported. This can be for a variety of reasons but most commonly because
- Embarrassment – the victims feel foolish at being tricked into letting offenders into their homes
- Fear or intimidation – the offender may have added pressure onto older people not to tell anyone
- The victim may fear losing their independence
- The victim may not be aware they have been a victim – often victims do not realise something has been taken for hours, days or even weeks. In such cases they are more likely to question their own judgement or memory rather than admit they have been a victim.
- A belief that reporting the crime is futile – feelings of great loss and powerlessness can often ensue which are compounded by emotions generated by other life events
- Victims often think it is pointless and unnecessary to report the incident and often do not even mention it to friends
People can protect themselves from these types of crimes.
- Remember – if you are not sure who is at your door especially if you are not expecting anyone to call, then don’t open the door.
- Keep your doors and windows locked and secured at all times
- Try to keep your front garden neat and tidy so as not to attract people asking if you want it tidying up.
- If you need any jobs doing around the house or garden, talk it over with a relative or a friend who will help you find a reputable trader.
- Do not be pressured into agreeing to work being done
- Don’t go to the bank or a cash point with a trader
- If someone refuses to leave when you ask them to, phone 999
Older and vulnerable people are less likely to be victims in areas where there are visible and subtle signs of a caring and supportive community such as Neighbourhood and Home Watch, residents groups or the visible presence of a local housing caretaker or warden
Further information on Operation Liberal and doorstep crime prevention can be obtained from Marilyn Barratt Community Safety Officer Operation Liberal on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01623 608020