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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Let's stop criminals getting access to the home of vulnerable residents

I was speaking to the local police team in Southfield, which covers some of Acton and the Ealing section of Chiswick.

I thought you might like to see and circulate advice about being on the lookout for individuals knocking on doors posing as employees of gas, electricity and water companies asking to read meters. On gaining entry there is a concern that items in peoples homes have been going missing. I understand that gas, electricity and water companies by law must check meters every two years to ensure that they are working correctly so they must be allowed access into your home at some point but it does not necessarily have to be there and then if you are suspicious or have concerns.

As a general guide, the police advise residents of Southfield to be vigilant and do the following >

1) Always ask to see ID. They will have to have photo ID. Check that the photograph resembles the individual in front of you and check that it isn't a passport photograph just taped onto or over a card. If it doesn’t look genuine you have two options.

(a) either refuse them entry.
Me with the local police team on Southfield Rec
(b) or ask for their name and a number for the company they work for and telephone to verify that the individual is a genuine employee. Ask the caller to wait outside and close the door whilst you check to see if they are genuine. A genuine caller will not mind you doing this. Remember as well not to call the phone number on their ID card as that may be a colleague of a criminal (so phone the number by looking in the telephone book or on the internet).

2) A person attending to obtain a meter reading will normally have a large electronic device to record the readings. This is normally the type of device that you would use to sign for a delivery rather than simply a phone or a tablet. If the individual calling has paperwork only they are unlikely to be genuine.

3) Never leave an individual unsupervised in your home. Get to know where all your meters are and how to access them. Take callers to where the meters are ONLY. Observe them record the reading and then escort them out. It takes 30 seconds to read a meter and so the genuine callers will not mind at all that you wait with them. It is very unlikely that a genuine meter reader will ask to use the toilet or ask for a drink. Please do not be afraid to be vigilant and say no to such requests.

4) Callers attending to read a meter will not normally attend in pairs. If two individuals attend it is best to not allow them entry. Best to be safe than become a victim of a crime.

5) If you are elderly or particularly vulnerable contact your supplier and ask for appointments to be sent in writing prior to an individual attending to read your meter. You may not get a specific time given but you may get a general time e.g. 'morning' of 2nd September. At least that way you are expecting an individual to call round.

Do contact the local police team if you see anyone you think is trying to gain access using false identities.

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