Police are asking friends and family of older or vulnerable people to talk to them about the issue of ‘cold callers’ - and make sure they know what to do when someone unknown to them comes to their door.
The appeal comes following a report of suspicious persons claiming to be from TV licensing, calling to the home of a man in his 80s in Randalstown on Thursday 7 July.
Inspector Lenaghan said: “We want to keep everyone safe in our community and I would appeal to householders to be aware of cold callers coming to your door.
“Remember that it is your home - and so it is ok not to open the door if you have any concerns. You could also speak to the person through the door or window, without actually opening the door to them.
“Most callers at your door will be genuine but someone could be trying to gain access to look around your property or charge you too much for bad or non-existent work.
“Report any activity that raises your suspicions to police immediately. This is a good way to alert us so we can investigate - and will help deter criminals and reduce crime in your area. Call us on the non-emergency number 101.
“You might have seen an unusual vehicle parked or travelling on a road in your area, or strangers calling at houses. Remember that these could well be criminals checking out what's on offer, and the level of security at people’s homes.
“Take a note of the vehicle registration number and a description of any vehicles that cause you any concern, and pass that information onto police by phoning 101.
“If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 101.
“Remember too that the free Quick Check service is available by phoning 101 to check if callers are genuine and ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ stickers are also available on request from your local Crime Prevention Officer by calling 101 or from the Policing and Community Safety Partnership by calling 0300 0300 900.
“Here are some straightforward suggestions for keeping you, your property and your possessions safe:
1. Close and lock all doors and windows even if you are only going out for a few minutes.
2. Leave a light on if it will be dark before you get home. Consider security lights. To a burglar, a dark house is an empty house.
3. Keep your valuables out of sight.
4. Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away from home.
5. Don’t leave car keys near your door, letterbox or windows.
6. Always check who is at the door. Not sure? Don’t open the door.
7. Set your alarm when going out. If you do not have an alarm, consider installing one.
8. Ask a neighbour or a friend to check your property and to remove post from the porch/hallway.
9. Inform police if your house is to be vacant for any length of time.
10. Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked and secure ladders.”
The Inspector added: “We want to take this opportunity to urge everyone to report any suspicious activity of strangers offering unsolicited services or trying to gain access to homes.
“The sooner you contact us, even if it is on the behalf of others, the better our chances are of catching a potential criminal.
“Remember, it's your home and, if you have any concerns, it's okay not to open the door. You can speak to the person through the door or window, without actually opening the door to them."