Police have been out in force in South Bank after they and partner agencies across Cleveland took part in a national campaign to disrupt criminal activity and bring rogue traders and distraction burglars to justice.
The day of action formed part of a week-long national campaign codenamed Operation Rogue Trader, which was led by Operation Liberal - the national intelligence unit for distraction burglary and travelling criminals - and Trading Standards.
Other agencies, including Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), Crimestoppers, the Department for Work & Pensions (DPW) and the Environmental Agency were also supporting the operation.
Those believed to be using distraction to steal from homes, rogue traders who deliberately overcharge or use intimidating behaviour in order to extort money, or cold callers who charge for unnecessary work and damage property were all being targeted throughout the country.
Trading Standards Officers, Neighbourhood Police Officers, Special Constables, VOSA Officers and DPW staff along with officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit were located on Upper Oxford Street in South Bank in order to identify passing rogue traders, with each vehicle stopped subject to scrutiny by the relevant agency.
Detective Inspector Dave Clough said, “This operation was carried out with representatives from the Government Agency Information Network (GAIN) being present. This combined working demonstrates the importance of key partners working together to achieve operational aims whilst protecting our communities. GAIN meets every six weeks with the aim of sharing vital information which assists in the prevention and detection of crime and protects the most vulnerable members of society.
The results of this operation reflect the hard work and commitment of the group whilst denying criminals the use of Teesside’s roads
26 vehicles were stopped and checked with 21 of them committing some form of offence.
Two arrests were made for theft of shopping trollies – each worth £100 and three drug searches took place with a seizure from one vehicle of cannabis, the other two proved negative.
Eleven vehicle prohibitions issued by VOSA, including 2 vehicles which were carrying excess weight, 2 recoveries for no insurance and no licence, 3 seatbelt tickets were issued and 2 vehicles did not have vehicle excise licences along with 1 without a current MOT certificate.
Leaflets have been distributed across the Force area containing information to raise awareness of the tactics used by these deceitful criminals. The message given as part of the campaign nationally is, Not Sure? Don’t Open the Door!
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Pickard said: “Rogue traders and distraction burglars see the vulnerable and elderly as easy prey, with their actions causing long-term financial and emotional consequences that can ruin lives.
“Evidence strongly suggests that there are links between those who commit distraction burglary
and those who are involved in rogue trading. Those who commit these offences often cross-
county borders which highlights the importance of a national operation such a Operation Liberal, which is funded jointly by all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: “Local residents have the right to say no to cold callers on their doorstep and I will continue to support police and partner agencies to raise awareness in communities. We must focus on safeguarding those most vulnerable across Cleveland and prioritising repeat victims of crime.”
In addition, Trading Standards gave advice to 5 operators who did not have the correct contract cancellation documentation and the Department for Work and Pensions carried out checks on 6 people in receipt of benefits.
The Environment Agency gained 5 intelligence logs and 3 with breaches of regulations.
Anyone wanting to report activity or has information on rogue traders can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. People can also contact their local Trading Standards department for advice through the various council numbers.
Residents should follow these crime prevention tips:
* Check the identity of the doorstep caller by telephoning the company they are purporting to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in
your local directory or provided independently by your service provider.
* Check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Schemes or the Government Trust Mark scheme.
* 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. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out.
* Never pay cash up front and don’t ever go to the bank or cash point with a trader
* If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999
Posted on Friday 11th April 2014