Warning to be on guard

Check doorstep callers carefully
Check doorstep callers carefully

Local policing officers in the Western Isles are urging residents to be on their guard against doorstep crime.

Reports have been received of cold callers operating in the islands in recent weeks.

Police are advising residents take sensible precautions to ensure they do not become victims.

Preventions and Interventions Officer Constable Fiona Macleod said: “Unfortunately the Western Isles is not immune to crime of this kind.

“We advise caution when dealing with cold-callers for any form of home improvement, property maintenance or repair to your home so if you have any doubts, do not let them into your house.

“If you are aware of any suspicious activity taking place at the home of a neighbour, friend or family member or if you are in any doubt about a trader’s behaviour then please contact Police on 101.

“The ‘Nominated Neighbour’ scheme encourages support for elderly or vulnerable members of the community. Please contact me at Stornoway Police Office for more information or to arrange a home visit”.

Key advice for the public in dealing with doorstep crime:

• Keep your front and back doors locked at all times and be on guard if someone turns up unexpectedly.

• Use the door viewer or nearby window when answering the door and use (or fit) a door chain or bar.

• Only let callers in if they have an appointment and you have confirmed they are genuine.

• Always ask for identification badges of anyone you answer the door to, but don’t rely on them. Identity cards can be faked – phone the company to verify their identity.

• Some companies offer a password system. Ask your utility providers if this can be used and if you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it.

• Never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home even if they are asking for help – they may not be genuine. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you.

• Never agree to pay for goods or give money to strangers who arrive at your door.

• Don’t keep large amounts of money in your home.

• Don’t feel pressurised into agreeing to immediate work or buying a product or service.

• Don’t agree to buy from the first person who calls.

• Don’t pay cash up front or offer to go and get money.

• Shop around and get a few quotes if you decide you need work done and ask for recommendations from friends and family.

• Ask what your cancellation rights are.