Sometimes criminals turn up at your door and use lies and deceit to scam or steal from you. This is called doorstep crime. It can include:
- Distraction burglary – when someone distracts your attention and then steals from you, often with the help of an accomplice
- Bogus officials – when someone pretends to be someone, such as a police officer or member of the gas board in order to scam or steal from you
- Rogue traders – when traders take your money and carry out unnecessary work, inferior work or – sometimes – no work at all!
- High pressure sales – some doorstep sales practices are illegal and break consumer and trading laws and regulations
You may also be affected by:
How it can affect you
As well as facing the loss of your money or possessions, doorstep criminals can leave you feeling intimidated, vulnerable and targeted.
The effects on older or vulnerable people can be especially devastating, with some victims losing their confidence and independence.
You may feel frightened, anxious, and have difficulty trusting people.
Some victims feel embarrassed that they have been ‘duped’ by a criminal, and this can put them off reporting it to police or friends and family.
Doorstep crime is never the victim’s fault. Criminals are expert manipulators and know exactly what they are doing.
What can you do?
Don’t worry about being overcautious – it is always better to be safe, and genuine tradespeople and officials will not mind you taking steps to protect yourself from doorstep criminals.
- Make sure you lock your doors, even if you are at home.
- Look to see who is at the door before you open it.
- Put the chain on before you open the door, and ask to see some identification
- Ring the company that the person claims to represent to check they are genuine:
- Lock the door and leave the person on your doorstep while you make the call
- Don’t ring the number on their ID card
If you are not sure about the person at your door, ask them to call back when you have someone else with you.
- Don’t keep lots of cash in the house; use a bank, building society or post office.
- Consider using the ‘nominated neighbour scheme’. By prior agreement, your nominated neighbour will then handle any callers for you. You will simply need to show a card to the caller, which has your neighbour’s contact details on it.
- Think about installing a security light or intercom system.
- Some gas and water companies operate a password scheme. If you join the scheme, officials from the company should always give you the correct password when they arrive.
- Never feel pressurised into doing anything you’re unsure about. Genuine visitors and tradespeople will understand.
- If getting work done on your home, get a few quotes from different people first.
- Join your local Home Watch scheme.
How to report it
In an emergency: dial 999
An emergency is when a crime is being committed or has just been witnessed, there is a risk of injury, or a risk of serious damage to property.
In a non-emergency: dial 101
Use this number to report a non-emergency incident or make a general inquiry.
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is a charity which is entirely independent of police and never share details with police of people who have got in touch.
Find help and support
If you have been a victim of crime, don’t suffer in silence. Even if you don’t want to report it to the police, tell a trusted friend or family member about it and use them for support. You can also search our directory to find help and support to help you cope and recover from what’s happened.
More information and useful links
Age UK provides services, information and advice to older people, including home security, safety, pensions, health, care and housing. You can call them on 0800 169 6565 9am to 7pm.
United Utilities’ Extra Care Services, will help set up a bogus caller protection scheme that includes identity checks and a password.
Care and Repair (Manchester and Wigan) provide advice and support, operate a low cost small repair service and can help organise larger improvements or adaptations. You can call them on 0161 872 5500.