Nottinghamshire residents are being encouraged to report doorstep crime incidents involving vulnerable people in their communities.
Despite vast underreporting of the problem, there have been 180 cases reported to Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards team in the last year.
Offenders exploit vulnerable people by convincing them to pay for shoddy or incomplete repair work, charging extortionate fees for their services or threatening residents who do not comply.
John Clayton, of Kirkby, contacted the council after becoming suspicious about a trader who carried out maintenance work to his elderly neighbour’s home and garden.
He said: “The trader told my neighbour that her roof was failing and charged her £3,400 for repairs with a long list of materials and hired equipment that he had used.
“I went up on the roof and from what I could see he only mortared one roof tile, which must have taken him all of five minutes.
“The trader also charged her ridiculous amounts of money for felling trees but it stopped as soon as I stepped in.
“It is important people keep a look out for elderly neighbours and help them find reputable workmen to avoid these rogue traders.”
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “Doorstep crime is believed to be hugely underreported as victims are often vulnerable and can be embarrassed to let the authorities know about their experience.
“Trading Standards officers are only able to catch the perpetrators by people coming forward with information so we are urging neighbours, friends and family to be our eyes and ears concerning anyone vulnerable who they know.
“Doorstep crime can be very traumatic for older and disabled people so we are keen to reduce the number of incidents locally.”
Residents are asked to look out for the following signs of a dishonest caller:
l Traders have been cold calling in the area
l A builder’s van is parked nearby, particularly one that does not include a company name or contact details
l Building or maintenance work on the neighbour’s garden or house starts unexpectedly
l Poor quality work is visible on the roof, driveway, or property
l The neighbour appears anxious or distressed
l The neighbour visits the bank, building society or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader
To report an incident of doorstep crime contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
For more information on the Consumer week campaign visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/events.