Highland and Islands Police are working in partnership with local authority Trading Standards across the division, advising residents to remain vigilant to door step criminals.

Bad weather can often bring with it damage to property, resulting in an increase in bogus callers in local communities. Criminals will use the weather as an opportunity to attempt to con you.

Reputable businesses will never cold call you looking for work and you should always seek more than one quote for any work you are planning.

Police Scotland will remain vigilant and numerous Doorstep Crime campaigns/initiatives have and will be carried out along with Trading Standards and other partner agencies. As proved in the past, anyone caught carrying out this despicable type of crime WILL be dealt with robustly.

By following the steps detailed below, you will reduce the chances of falling victim to doorstep crime. Stay vigilant for elderly relatives, neighbours and friends – especially if they live alone.

• Use a door chain or bar. Always put the chain on before opening the door and keep it on while talking to callers

• If you don’t have a door chain, check who is at the door from the nearest window

• Don’t feel embarrassed - genuine callers expect you to be careful

• If you have any doubts, tell the caller to come back when someone else is home. Genuine callers won’t mind rearranging

• Be aware of methods used by criminals to distract you such as being asked to make a telephone call, to use your toilet, for a glass of water or being asked to check water or gas supplies

• Don’t keep large amounts of money at home

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

• Call the police when you see anything suspicious

• Never let someone you don’t know into your house. If you’re not sure, don’t answer the door.

Superintendent Colin Gough said:

"Bogus workmen are callous individuals who attempted to take advantage of the vulnerable members of our community for financial gain and may attempt other crimes by distraction. Be very wary of traders who make unsolicited visits to your home and try to convince you that urgent repairs are required."

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to actively pursue those responsible and bring them to justice. The public can assist us in our efforts to tackle bogus workmen offences by reporting any suspicious activity around the homes of family, friends or neighbours."

Mark McGinty, Trading Standards Team Leader said:

“We all know that bad weather can cause damage, be it to roofs, gutters, trees or fences. In our experience, bogus workmen are known to follow the bad weather and attempt to engage to repair the damage. My advice would be to ‘say NO’ to someone calling at your door or putting a flyer through your letterbox. Generally, legitimate business does not operate in this way, and bogus workmen could make the damage a lot worse, and effect any insurance you may have on the property. I would urge anyone who suspects a bogus workman to be in the area to contact either Trading Standards or Police Scotland.”

For further information on protecting yourself and others from doorstep crime, please see the Police Scotland website. Always dial 999 in an emergency, 101 if non-urgent and Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you prefer to leave information anonymously. Trading Standards can be contacted through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

For further information please see websites below:

http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/campaigns/2015/beat-doorstep-crime

http://www.highland.gov.uk/tradingstandards