ACT Policing is encouraging elderly community members to be vigilant about their personal and home safety after reports of conmen using various scams to gain entry to homes.
ACT Policing have received numerous reports recently of suspicious behaviour in Canberra’s inner city suburbs. The reports are of males offering to fix the residents plumbing or paint house numbers on the driveways for an amount of money. In some instances the males pretend to be working with police and show documents with police insignia. The victims targeted are elderly.
In the first situation the offender will claim to be a plumber, stating that due to recent rain the plumbing requires checking. The offender will enter, check the toilet by flushing it and informing the elderly resident that there is a problem and they can fix it for an amount of money. Once the money has been handed over the offender leaves the residence without carrying out any work.
The second situation is a male offering to paint house numbers on the curb of driveways. The offender advises the victim that he has ‘special’ paint that will not fade over time, even when the victim already has painted house numbers. A price is agreed upon however if more money is given the offender claims to have no change or increases the price if more than one number is painted.
The third situation is a male pretending to be working with police to gain entry to the residence. The offender is in plain clothes, carrying a folder with paperwork which has a police insignia on it, claiming he requires a signature from the victim. Upon entry the offender may assault the victim before leaving with a sum of money.
Superintendent Kylie Flower from ACT Policing Crime Prevention team said there are some home safety precautions the elderly can take to minimise this happening to them.
“Do not let a person you do not know into your home,” Superintendent Flower said.
“Talk with them through the security screen door or open the door with the security chain still engaged. If you are expecting a service repairman or similar, check their identification. If in doubt, call their head office to verify their details. Use the number out of the phone book and not a phone number they provide to you. If the person is claiming to be a police officer then ask to see identification. If you are unsure, then call Police Operations on 131 444”.
“If a person does illegally enter your home, comply with them if they ask for your wallet or handbag. If you think a neighbour or passerby will hear then shout or yell and consider carrying a personal alarm. Take note of the offender’s appearance; clothing, features, vehicle, registration, direction of travel and anything you consider may assist police, although do not put yourself in danger to get this information”.
“The most important thing to remember is that if something should happen to you, such as a robbery or attack, don’t be embarrassed. It’s important that you tell someone who can help you as soon as possible”, Supt Flower added.
ACT Policing has recently launched its revised ‘Home and Safety Booklet’. This new booklet provides community members with important safety information, including how to effectively secure your home, what to do when going away on holiday and how to protect your personal safety while out in public. Copies of the booklet can be obtained online at www.police.act.gov.au
Anyone who observes suspicious activity in their neighborhood should contact ACT Policing Operations on 131 444 or for further tips on home security, visit the ACT Policing website at www.police.act.gov.au