If you re not sure, don t open the door that s the message from police and trading standards in Northamptonshire as part of a campaign to tackle doorstep crime across the county.
The advice comes following a number of burglaries at the homes of elderly people where distraction techniques and sometimes force have been used to gain entry and steal property.
In a bid to deter bogus callers and help reduce these types of offences, Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards are giving away no cold calling door stickers.
The double-sided stickers can be stuck on the front door glass or an adjacent window and acts both as a warning to uninvited callers and a reminder to the householder.
The outside message tells callers the house is a Doorstep crime Action Network No Cold Calling home and warns that the householder does not deal with uninvited traders, asking them to leave and not return.
The message on the inside, which is visible to anyone who goes to open the door, gives a useful reminder not to open the door to unexpected visitors.
Detective Inspector Wayne Preece is encouraging people to pick up a sticker and think about how they can support their elderly relatives and friends. He said: What s been most concerning about the recent spate of burglaries and robberies is that many of the victims have been over 65 often much older.
The methods vary. Several have been typical distraction burglaries, where the offender has called at the house, conned their way in, and then tried to distract the victim in some way while they or an accomplice has carried out the burglary.
In others, someone has again knocked at the door and, as soon as the door has been part opened, they ve forced their way in.
Public support is really important and I would urge people to take a few minutes to speak to elderly relatives, friends or neighbours about the risks posed by bogus callers, help them check their home is as secure as possible and urge them never to open the door to anyone they are not expecting, whoever they say they are.
Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, added: Our advice is always not to answer the door to unexpected traders and cold callers.
These offenders often try to take advantage of elderly and vulnerable people, which is why we re also asking friends, relatives, neighbours and carers to be on their guard and look out for their loved ones.
If you re concerned about a caller at your door or suspect that rogue traders are operating in your community, contact the Doorstep crime Action Network (DAN) on 0345 23 07 702 or the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.
To get one the stickers for yourself or any elderly friend or relative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, putting No Cold Calling Sticker in the subject box.
Anyone who would like to get more involved is invited to sign up to the county s Doorstep crime Action Network. Known as DAN, it has been in place for more than five years and brings together police, trading standards, various voluntary and community organisations, as well as members of the public, who help share information and provide support to elderly or vulnerable members of their community.
For more information about DAN, doorstep crime prevention advice and a range of leaflets and posters to download, please visit www.northants.police.uk/lookout.
For help finding a reliable, local trader, take a look at the Trading Standard s Buy with Confidence scheme at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders.