What is distraction burglary?
Distraction burglary or bogus caller theft is a crime which has affected many unlikely victims who open the door to a person who gains entry to your home by tricking you in some form or another with the intent to commit a crime.
The most common way to trick you is to tell you they are an official representative such as a police officer, utility company employee or a council worker. Sometimes they also pretend to be a sales person with a 'too good to be true' offer.
Once they gain entry to your home they then distract you while they take your valuables.
Who are the victims?
- 77% of victims were female
- 23% were male
- 74% of victims lived alone
- 26% lived with someone
- 12% lived in sheltered accommodation
- The average age of victims was 78 years
An analysis of police records over the 1999-2001 period indicates an average of 14,500
reported crimes per year.
Statistics can be found here on the Neighbourhood Watch website
Once you have become a victim you are at risk of being put onto a 'suckers' list in whice the criminals will sell on victims details to other criminals who will then target you for other tricks such as scam mail.
If you have been a victim of this crime or you think someone may have tried to enter your home under a false pretense it is vitally important that you report it. Many victims are not aware they have become a victim and often think their valuable has been lost and question their own memory.
How can you prevent this?
LOCK, STOP, CHAIN, CHECK
Make sure that your door is locked when you're at home. Don't unlock it until you're sure who is on the other side. Be extra careful who you answer your door to - if you're unsure, don't open your door.
Make sure that your back door is closed and locked before answering your front door - thieves sometimes work in pairs, with one entering through the back door while the other knocks on the front door.
If someone appears at your door and you're not expecting any visitors, check that all the doors are locked. Look through the spy-hole viewer or one of your windows to see who it is.
Install an outside light above your door. When someone calls at your door, turn the light on to get a good look at them. Position the light so that it lights up the caller's face.
If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first. Keep the bar or chain on while you are talking. Normally, when the door is shut and locked, leave the bar or chain off, in case you need to get out in an emergency - such as a fire, or if someone wanted to enter your property if you needed help.
If you need glasses to read the caller's ID card, close and lock your door before going to get your glasses. Never leave the door open and unattended.
Ask for, and double check, the caller’s identity card. Keep your door chain on while you do this. And, if you're still not sure, ask for a number that you can ring to confirm their identity. If they can't show you any identification, don't let them in.
Information taken from Thames Valley Police Crime Prevention