The county’s police force has joined other agencies as part of a national week of action against rogue traders.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Environment Agency and Immigration Enforcement joined forces with Lincolnshire Police to deal with rogue trading in the county.
The National week of action started on Monday and combined enforcement with engagement to crack down on rogue trading and highlight the issue to the public.
Rogue traders and pushy doorstep sellers con vulnerable people by overcharging, charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately and leaving work unfinished. They use intimidating behaviour in order to extort money, for example taking a customer to an ATM for payment.
The multi-agency approach to combat rogue traders brought together a team made up of staff from each organisation. The team combed the county to seek out rogue traders and provide information and support to residents. Their brief was to conduct enquiries, respond to reports of potential rogue trading and raise awareness of this area of criminality within local communities. Their patrols will continue today.
The advice to anyone with concerns about a caller is “Not sure? Don’t open the door!”
Lincolnshire Police Superintendent Maria Staniland said: “We want to seek out, identify and prosecute rogue traders. This is our aim not only in the week of action, but throughout the year. There is evidence to link rogue trading to distraction burglary so it is important that we explain what these people do and how they work.
“If residents are familiar with the techniques they use, they are in a better position to protect themselves and their families and neighbours from becoming victims. Offenders target those that they think they can trick or bully so that can mean the most vulnerable people of all. That said, they can be very persuasive and very convincing so we all need to be on our guard.
“If you are concerned about unwanted callers we can give you one of our signs to say that you do not do business at the door. Just contact your neighbourhood policing team.”
Kirsty Toyne, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “Doorstep crime can affect anyone, but most often it is the elderly and vulnerable who are targeted. Rogue traders can be very persuasive and convincing in their approach and it can be very distressing and frightening for an elderly or vulnerable person who is unaware of how to protect themselves.
“Tracking down and catching these rogue traders is an absolute priority for Lincolnshire County Council’s Trading Standards teams. Working with our partners, including Lincolnshire Police and HMRC, we are committed to working together to tackle this issue and will take appropriate enforcement action against those involved.”
Some results of the operation:
Officers were deployed to the road check site at Thorpe on the Hill services on Wednesday 13 for the day of action. They were joined there by colleagues from EMOpSS (East Midlands Operational Support Service), HMRC Hidden Economies and Fuel Control, Lincolnshire Trading Standards and the Environment Agency.
EMOpSS – stopped in excess of 60 vehicles and 75 people throughout the operation.
Lincolnshire Police – two vehicles were seized under SOCAP legislation for having no insurance and two fixed penalty tickets for traffic related issues. This was an opportunity to engage with traders who supported the operation recognising that rogue traders ruin the reputation of hard working and honest trades in the UK.
HMRC Hidden Economies – instigated nine cases of interest.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards – instigated twelve warnings for ‘the forming of contracts.’
Environment Agency - 28 vehicles checked in total with no illegal waste carriers detected.
In addition, Lincolnshire Police Volunteer Cadets were engaged in their own day of action on Wednesday 6 April. They visited elderly and vulnerable residents and assisted with garden clearance and property cleaning to enable these homes to become a less obvious targets for rogue traders. The cadets engaged with the residents and advised on crime reduction and doorstep etiquette.