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Elderly couple tell of their ordeal as police tackle rogue traders

Posted on - 20th October, 2011 - 9:40am | Author - | Posted in - Crime, News

Photo by HEA Engineering Subject Centre on Flickr

Rogue traders and doorstep sellers across Lancashire were targeted in a national day of action yesterday.

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The day, which police forces and trading standards took part in, comes as part of a week of activities which aim to target rogue traders and highlight the dangers that consenting to have work carried out by cold callers can bring.

An elderly couple from the Ribble Valley were targeted by rogue traders twice in six months. The husband and wife, aged 84 and 72, who have asked not to be identified, said they were left “extremely shaken” and unable to sleep for days, after both sets of workmen returned with angry threats after work was done. In one case, the man was driven to a cashpoint by a workman and asked to withdraw £1,500.

In January the man, aware a small amount of work was needed on a flat roof, approached a team of builders parked in the road outside his home. He let one workman go on to the roof to examine the problem.

He said: “The man came down with a photograph to show me of what was up there, but I don’t know if it was a fake.

“He said that the roof cover was all torn up and rainwater would be leaking through. I knew it was an old cover, and his quote of £1,500 didn’t sound too bad, so I agreed. I asked if he’d take a cheque, but he began pressurising me into getting cash.

“He was very persuasive, and even though I was doubtful, I let him drive me to a bank and I withdrew the money.

“By the time I got back, his fellow worker said he had almost finished with the stapling and bitumen, which seemed very quick. Then they went without any mention of a follow-up visit.”

The following day the workmen reappeared and demanded another £1,000, claiming they needed to finish off their work.

The man said: “I was quite determined that after being twisted once, it wouldn’t happen again.

The action day has seen increased police patrols in areas where older and vulnerable people live, advice packs distributed to residents and roadside checkpoints.

Superintendent Peter O’Dwyer from Lancashire Constabulary said: “Rogue traders are not welcome in Lancashire – they prey on vulnerable members of our community and we have seen them con people out of vast sums of money for work that is substandard, unnecessary and overpriced.

“We hope that this operation will catch those responsible and raise awareness of the dangers of rogue traders and doorstep crime.

“I would urge residents to never agree to have any work done as a result of a cold call. Don’t make snap decisions and don’t be pressurised into having the job done. Only pay once work is completed to your satisfaction.

“Crime levels in Lancashire are at an all time low and it is our firm intention to ensure they remain that way. We will do all we can to make it difficult for rogue traders to operate in Lancashire.”

In the past year Lancashire Trading Standards received 349 complaints about cold callers including builders, driveways, roofing and bogus charity collectors.

 Photo by HEA Engineering Subject Centre on Flickr

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