New joint campaign to combat the conmen
'Stay Out Stranger' is the message to remember after the launch of a new joint drive to clamp down on callous tricksters preying on the elderly.
South West Water have combined with Devon and Cornwall Police and EDF Energy on the SOS - 'Stay out Stranger' - campaign.
As part of the campaign, police officers are urging residents to say "Stay Out Stranger" to any unknown or unexpected callers to their home.
The campaign is aimed at raising public awareness of distraction burglaries, rogue traders and bogus callers and provides advice about how to avoid falling victim to a distraction burglary in your own home.
Police officers across the two counties will be handing out leaflets and stickers reminding residents of the key advice to stay safe. The information will also be available from post offices and at your local police station.
DCI Mike Fowkes, who is leading the SOS campaign, said: "These criminals prey on the vulnerable members of our society and leave many elderly people afraid to live in their own homes. We need to continue to robustly investigate distraction burglaries and ensure everyone can feel safe in their own home.
"Through our Stay Out Stranger Campaign we want to encourage everyone to follow a few simple steps to ensure they remain safe and keep strangers out."
While the number of distraction burglaries has fallen steadily across Devon and Cornwall in the past four years in 2007 there were 111 distraction burglaries. The average age of victims to such crimes is 78.
It is believed many more distraction burglaries are being committed across the region but some elderly victims are reluctant or frightened to the crime.
DCI Fowkes added: "While distraction burglaries remain rare in Devon and Cornwall we want to ensure the number of such crimes committed falls even further. Anyone who has been a victim of a distraction burglary or who has seen or received a suspicious caller should call 999 immediately."
The campaign is being supported by businesses across the region including South West Water and EDF Energy who are urging their customers to be safe.
South West Water's Customer Service Director, Monica Read, said: "We know many of these criminals pretend they are 'from the water board' in a bid to gain trust.
"If you have any doubt about who is at your door, ask for ID and if you are still not satisfied, then don't let them in. None of our staff or those of our contractors will try to force their way in or argue if you just say no."