Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers across Cambridgeshire were targeted in a national day of action on Wednesday (April 13).
Six officers from the ANPR intercept team and three representatives from trading standards conducted joint patrols to catch rogue traders and prevent people from becoming victims of crime.
As a result of the day, 15 vehicles were stopped and checked and 20 traders, including builders, landscapers, window fitters and roofers, were spoken to. This resulted in two penalty tickets being issued, one person being reported for an offence, four trading standards guidance packs being issued, with signed assurance from traders, and six people being given trading standards business advice.
In 2015 Operation Rogue Trader saw more than 100 people arrested, £3.1m worth of property recovered and more than 5,000 vehicles inspected across the UK.
Rogue trading is a UK wide problem with evidence suggesting a number of burglars associate with rogue traders. Rogue traders often travel vast distances to commit offences, highlighting why having a national capability such as Operation Liberal is important.
Detective Sergeant Richard Stott, force lead for Operation Rouge Trader, said: “This joint day of action to target rogue traders enabled both agencies to conduct pro-active patrols in identified areas of concern in Cambridgeshire.
“The team provided advice to traders and clarification around their legal trading responsibilities whilst reassuring the public with a police presence.
“This has built a positive working relationship between the police and Trading Standards and further joint agency activity is planned to target rogue traders.”
Andrew Luckett, the office manager for Operation Liberal, said: “Distraction crimes and scams continue to occur and the victims are swindled out of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work which has a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.
“We will continue to carry out operations like this and remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.”
Operation Rogue Trader is led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit that links associated crimes and gathers intelligence on key nominals and organised crime groups who travel extensively throughout the UK.
Steve Playle, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said: “Operation Rogue Trader is a great opportunity for the different partners involved in tackling doorstep crime to come together and carry out some enforcement work and to raise awareness of the issues. Cold calling criminals undertaking property maintenance work continue to exploit vulnerable and elderly home owners.
“Trading Standards officers right across the UK are committed to making criminal’s lives as difficult as possible by sharing intelligence, causing disruption and taking criminal prosecutions where necessary.”
It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door. Legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine. Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any doorstep offender or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.