Rogue traders and doorstep criminals are being targeted in a local crackdown on bogus cold-callers and fraudsters. ??Joining the nationwide Operation Liberal, Gwent Police have been seizing vehicles, issuing fines, and pulling unsafe cars off the road, in a wide-ranging assault on criminal cold-calling.
Working with trading standards and other bodies including the UK Border Agency and HMRC, officers are targeting dishonest traders — some of which call door-to-door offering rip-off services — to stamp out rogue traders.
Inspector Rob Jenkins from Gwent Police said the operation, in its 12th year, depends heavily on help from locals. “Doorstep crime has a detrimental impact on victims, many of whom are the most vulnerable in their communities and we are committed to preventing, disrupting and enforcing against these kinds of criminals.
"Partnership working is key to the success of campaigns such as Op Liberal and also to raise awareness of the steps people can take to protect themselves and their properties from rogue traders.
“I would urge members of the public who have been victims of such callers or traders, or who perhaps have friends, neighbours or family members who have been targeted to contact police on 999 in an emergency or 101 if the call is less urgent.
“The simple message is to always say ’no’ to any traders who unexpectedly turn up on your doorstep offering to carry out work.”
Last year’s operation saw almost 300 people arrested, with police clawing back £3m in criminally gained goods and valuables. Officers also inspected 5,000 vehicles.
This week, Gwent Police, with partners including HMRC, VOSA, DVLA, Trading Standards, UK Border Agency and the Fire Service, have been gathering intelligence, offering crime prevention advice, delivering leaflets and carrying out vehicle checks across Gwent.
Officers found one plumber had fake stickers on his van, claiming he was registered by industry safety body Corgi. Enquiries uncovered his fraudulent licence and that he was also driving without insurance.
So far, Operation Liberal has taken five unsafe vehicles off the road, shopped four uninsured drivers, and put four businesses under the scope of Trading Standards.
Tim Day, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said “Trading Standards Services throughout the UK continue to combat the crimes associated with cold calling home maintenance traders and professional doorstep fraudsters.
“Working closely with partners in the Police and Adults Social Care on interventions, Trading Standards ensures those at risk of victimisation and exploitation are safeguarded and those responsible for the crimes are brought to justice.”
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any doorstep offender or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111. Residents can also contact the trading standards department of their local council.