Life is about to become much tougher for rogue traders wishing to take advantage of elderly and vulnerable residents in Sheffield.

As part of National Consumer Week 2014 (3-7 November), residents in Sheffield are being urged to look out for rogue traders preying on their elderly and vulnerable neighbours.

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene added: “The harm of doorstep crime goes much deeper than just financial loss.  We see first-hand how it can affect the victim’s physical and mental health.

“I really want to encourage neighbours, friends, relatives and carers to play their part in stopping these despicable doorstep traders operating in our communities.”

As many as 170,000 incidents of doorstep crime occur nationally each year, with residents cold called with offers to carry out repairs that are poor quality, unnecessary and charged at extortionate prices.  Victims often report being threatened and even driven to their bank to withdraw money.

Investigating these incidents locally is the number one priority for Sheffield’s Fair Trading team and, whilst officers aim to identify and prosecute those involved, community awareness is key to reducing the harm caused to elderly and vulnerable residents.

Ian Ashmore, Head of Environmental Regulation added: “Driveway or gardening services, roofing repairs or home improvements – right now our officers are investigating very serious incidents of fraud which occurred as a result of a caller at the door or deliberate rogue trading.

“Residents within our communities are scammed of thousands of pounds at the hands of these criminals as incidents go unreported or doorstep callers unchallenged.  Quite often just a little help from a concerned relative or neighbour is enough to deter the fraudsters and reporting your suspicions means my colleagues and the police can attend the incidents quickly to check on the traders.

This National ‘Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders’ campaign highlights the impact that the community spirit and kindness of neighbours, friends and relatives can have in local communities to tackle doorstep crime.

Signs an unwanted doorstep caller is visiting a neighbour:

  • Traders have been cold calling in the area
  • A builder’s van is parked nearby, particularly one that doesn’t include a company name or contact details
  • Building or maintenance work on your neighbour’s garden or house starts unexpectedly
  • Poor quality work is visible on the roof, driveway, or property
  • Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
  • Your neighbour visits the bank, building society, or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader

What can I do?

  • Ask your neighbour in private — in person or on the phone — if things are OK
  • If they are displeased, suggest calling a relative or carer on their behalf
  • Note any vehicle registration numbers
  • Keep hold of any flyers you have received through your door
  • Ask if the trader has left any paperwork and put it in a clean food bag
  • If you suspect a crime, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or your local trading standards office

Ends

For further information please contact Warwick Toone, Media Relations Officer on 07764 659182 or 0114 205 3546.  E-mail: warwick.toone@sheffield.gov.uk.  For out of office media enquiries ring 07711 153995.