ROGUE traders and forceful doorstep sellers who con vulnerable people into paying for unnecessary or overpriced work to their homes were targeted in a special operation last week.
Worcestershire Regulatory Services’ (WRS) Trading Standards team joined forces with West Mercia Police and national agencies to question traders in relation to their activities, examine and verify their paperwork, identify vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and conduct intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or more vulnerable people live.
‘Operation Rogue Trader’ took place in Worcestershire in the first week of October, in a campaign to highlight the constant work that takes place to deal with rogue traders and the risks of cold callers.
In last year’s campaign, nearly 400 people were arrested, £153,200 worth of property was recovered and over 10,000 vehicles were inspected nationwide. As rogue traders often travel long distances, work to combat them is co-ordinated with national agencies.
Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates, but their work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions, and there is evidence that suggests some rogue traders associate with burglars.
WRS Joint Committee Chairman Councillor Bronwen Behan said: “It was a successful week, with officers out and about speaking to traders and giving advice and assistance to consumers. What it shows to criminal traders is that we are working together to stop you, catch you and prosecute you.”
Peter Holmes, Senior Trading Standards officer for WRS added: “This work gives us great intelligence on the whereabouts of known individuals and traders, which we share nationally with other agencies so we can track their activities. We don’t just do this work for one week in a year, it’s a continuous process.”
Peter Goodman, Deputy Chief Constable East Midlands and the national policing lead for Operation Liberal which oversees Operation Rogue Trader, said: “Distraction crimes and scams conning people of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work have a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence. We will continue to carry out operations like this. Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.”
Residents can report suspected rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. Information that could lead to the arrest of an offender can be provided to the police on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers, the national charity, on 0800 555 111.