Bogus callers and distraction burglary

Most callers at your door will be genuine. However, some are bogus, whose aim is to get inside your home to steal from you.

Not sure? Don't open the door!

Bogus callers may pose as water, electricity or gas-board workers, council workers or even police officers so they can steal money or property from your home. You can prevent this type of crime if you take precautions.

To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this crime, remember the following four steps:

  • LOCK all doors - even when you are at home
  • STOP before you open the door, ask them who they are 
  • CHAIN- always use a door chain or spy hole 
  • NOT sure who they are? Don't open the door!

ALWAYS ask the caller for their identification, and check it, before letting them in. Use the phone number in the phone book, not the one on their identity card.

A genuine caller will happily wait outside while you check on them by calling their organisation and or calling a family member or neighbour.

If you feel threatened by a caller, you must ring the police on 999.

Distraction burglary campaign

North Yorkshire Police have launched an awareness campaign to target bogus callers and help prevent distraction burglaries. The campaign is centred around a video which has been funded by money raised from the sale of a vehicle owned by a gang of convicted distraction burglars. Find out more about the campaign.

Rogue traders

Rogue traders call at your door and offer to do work on your home or garden that will be either unnecessary or vastly over-priced. They have no formal training to carry out the work. Some have links with distraction burglars.

  • Don't ever go to a bank or cash point with a trader; legitimate traders would never do this!
  • Don't allow anyone to pressure you into agreeing to have work carried out. If you ask them to leave and they don't, call the police dial 999.
  • Do discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader.
  • Don't agree to any work or sign anything on the spot.

Advice for older people

Tips to keep you safe

  • If you're not sure who is at your door, don't open it! Check the identity of the caller by calling the company they are purporting to be from ie. Gas, Electricity, Water, Police. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller, they may be bogus!
  • Telephone a neighbour or friend nearby to come along and check out the caller before you open the door to them.
  • Some areas in the country have Neighbourhood Watch or Nominated Neighbour Schemes you can sign up to. Check with your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team to find out if there is one in your area.
  • Many utility service providers like gas electricity and water, provide password schemes or hotline numbers for customers to call, to check the identity of callers before opening the door. Speak to your utility provider.
  • Don't keep large quantities of cash at home; put it in the bank or post office where it is safe.
  • Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times. Always keep your door chain on.
  • If somebody asks for your help, needs to make a telephone call, has lost a ball in your garden, needs a drink or request a pen and paper for example, refer them to a younger neighbour or assist them through a closed door. Or call a friend or neighbour to come and assist.
  • If you suspect a bogus caller has visited you, even if you didn't let them in, call the police straight away. We need to know!

North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council also offer their own advice for dealing with doorstep callers.

We have also provided advice for specific scenarios. See the links below for more information about protecting yourself from bogus callers.

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