Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers were targeted during a week of action by police and partners.
Cheshire police and colleagues from a number of agencies worked together as part of Operation Rogue Trader – a week-long crime prevention initiative to target those who profit unscrupulously from the elderly and vulnerable.
During a national day of action on Wednesday (April 13) the force worked alongside Trading Standards, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Environment Agency and HM Revenue and Customs to carry out enforcement activity and provide reassurance to the local community.
Inspector Ian Stead, who co-ordinated the operation in Cheshire, said: “Rogue trading refers to the practice of deliberately overcharging for unsatisfactory goods and services. This includes charging of unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.
“Doorstep crime will not be tolerated. This kind of activity is despicable and strikes at the very heart of local communities as those involved tend to target and exploit the most vulnerable in society. This operation reflects how seriously police and partners take this type of crime and reinforces the message that we are committed to working closely together to do everything we possibly can to put a stop to it.
“We want to make it as difficult as possible for these types of criminals to operate in Cheshire – we are not an easy target and want to get the message across loud and clear that Cheshire is not a place for these kinds of people to do business.”
Throughout the day of action, officers patrolled hotspot areas checking that those plying their trade were genuine craftsmen. Vehicles were stopped on the county’s roads through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), which uses a special system to read number plates and identify vehicles and occupants, and vital intelligence was gathered in relation to this type of crime.
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Officers also visited areas previously targeted by rogue tradesmen to offer reassurance to local people.
During the day 105 vehicles were stop checked, four vehicles were seized for no insurance, one vehicle was seized for no licence and three vehicles were seized for no tax.
One man was arrested on warrant on behalf of the courts.
Inspector Stead added: “The operation has been a success in Cheshire and we hope that the ongoing efforts of police and partners help to raise awareness of the problems of rogue tradesmen and cold callers. Doorstep crime can have a devastating impact on victims both financially and emotionally.
“Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and always check the identity and credentials of anyone that calls at their home offering to carry out work. If they are in any doubt as to the identity of the person they should always check directly with the company they claim to be from. If the person is genuine they will not mind.
“Do not agree to anything on the spot, or sign anything and, most importantly, do not feel pressured into having work carried out. It is always worth discussing any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or a friend who can help you find a reputable trader.”
Anyone with any information about rogue tradesman is urged to call Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.