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Rogue Trader Warning

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12:01pm 11th April 2014

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Cornwall cracks down on rogue traders.

Police and Trading Standards are launching an operation after a string of serious cases in the Duchy.

It's feared some could be linked to distraction burglaries and even organised crime.
 
Cornwall Trading Standards Officer Gary Webster said: "We continue to be committed to prioritising doorstep crime complaints, particularly where we identify that the victims are vulnerable.
 
Doorstep crime incidents are typified by residents being cold called, whether on the telephone or at the door, and then pressurised into agreeing to buy services or goods."
 
The types of goods and services that are often offered by Rogue Traders include:
 
* Roofing, guttering or fascia boards
* Carpet cleaning
* Tree surgery or gardening
* Driveway repairs or surfacing (both tarmac and block paving)
* Minor building works or odd jobs
* Painting, decorating or exterior wall treatments
* Power washing - roofs and driveways
* Cheap, unsafe power tools
* Unsafe Sofas

Gary went on to say: "These criminals often prey on the fears of home owners who are worried about maintaining their property or persuaded into thinking they will get a good deal if they agree immediately. In the last few years we have seen some very serious cases in Cornwall, where vulnerable victims have been conned out of large sums of money for poor/non-existent work or goods that were unsafe.
 
"Evidence suggests that rogue traders are often linked to distraction burglary and that they will operate across borders; sometimes as part of an organised criminal gang.
 
"Our team already has a number of active rogue trader investigations ongoing, but we fear that the number of complaints we get is simply the tip of the ice-berg, as victims are often too embarrassed or afraid to come forward.
 
"The key message we want to get out is simple: "Not Sure? Don't Open the Door!""
 
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities said: "This is a great initiative and shows fantastic partnership working as agencies to help protect the vulnerable.  I would urge everyone to be vigilant and a good neighbour.  If you are concerned about anybody in your neighbourhood 'knocking' on the door offering to carry out home maintenance work, then please make a note of vehicle make, model, colour and registration number, and contact either the police or Trading Standards on 0300 1234 191.  If you feel intimidated or threatened by any doorstep seller you should shut the door and call the police emergency number 999."

Six things you can do to protect yourself:
 
* Check the identity of any callers 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.
* Ask a neighbour or friend nearby to check out the caller before you open the door to them or agree to have work done.
* Never pay cash up front.
* If you buy goods or agree services at you home (over the value of £35) by law you should be given a 7 days cooling off period.
*If you suspect a rogue trader caller is at your door dial 999. Alternatively if you feel that you have been a victim of doorstep crime, phone the police on 101 or trading standards on 0300 1234 191.

12:01pm 11th April 2014

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