Waging war on doorstep crooks

Spalding Age UK general manager Liz Walmsley welcomes the police crackdown.
Spalding Age UK general manager Liz Walmsley welcomes the police crackdown.
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Police are stamping down on doorstep crime to prevent vulnerable elderly people from being preyed upon by bogus callers they have branded as “vile”.

The average age of victims in Lincolnshire is 78 – most are women and most live alone.

Police are training health and social care staff, including community nurses, support workers and carers, to spread the message about doorstep crime to stop the elderly being conned out of cash and treasured possessions.

Age UK in Spalding, who have warned day centre users not to open the door to strangers and not to hire doorstep traders, welcome the new police step.

Its general manager Liz Walmsley has come across cases where “gardeners” visit and claim a tree is dangerous and ask for cash to take it down.

She’s telling the elderly not to trade on the doorstep – and to get three quotes from reputable firms for any jobs.

Mrs Walmsley says the older generation are so trusting and were brought up in a time when you could leave your door open.

“It doesn’t seem to ring home to them that there are these unscrupulous rogues about,” she said.

“The more people out there who are trained to deal with this the better – it is an absolutely despicable crime.”

Mrs Walmsley said elderly people who are conned on their own doorstep are left feeling embarrassed and upset, but it can be more damaging.

She said: “If it’s a lot of money it can affect their lifestyle.

“It makes them feel vulnerable in their own home – not safe anymore – and it can be the thin end of the wedge that leads to somebody going into a care home.”

Police say they are training social care staff because leaflets sent to the elderly may simply end up in a drawer.

Their message is: “Not sure? Don’t open the door!”