Wharfedale and Aireborough residents are being warned to be on the look-out for bogus doorstep callers.

West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards have issued the advice following several recent distraction burglaries, targeting older householders, in the area.

An 82-year-old man in Otley was visited, despite living in a Cold Calling Control Zone, by two men with Irish accents who persuaded him to let them clean his drive.

While there, one of the callers asked if he had any tablets to help a headache and then followed him into his home, where he asked if he could use the toilet.

Growing suspicious, the resident waited outside to make sure the uninvited visitor was not left on his own and so prevented any theft.

The same criminal gang approached another elderly man in Otley on the same day, offering to carry out roofing work, and one of them once more asked for a headache pill.

Luckily, the resident was alert, ensuring nothing was taken, and noted the registration number of the men’s vehicle which led to their arrest. One of the suspects has now been deported to Ireland, where he is wanted for other offences.

In Rawdon, meanwhile, an 87-year-old woman was not so fortunate. The lady, who is blind and partially deaf, was visited by a man selling tea towels who walked into her house and stole a large sum of money.

Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, David Lodge, said: “This time of year sees a sharp increase in complaints about cold callers offering roofing, gardening, driveways, and so on.

“As the recent complaints show, a number of criminals do pose as doorstep sales people and bogus utility company officials, often involved in carrying out distraction burglaries.

“We urge residents to be on their guard and report anything that is suspicious.”

Force Crime Prevention Officer for West Yorkshire Police, Chris Joyce, added: “Our partnership approach with Trading Standards in developing further preventative approaches to reducing the number of victims of doorstep crime is vital.

“Preventing crime is everyone’s business and we will be engaging with other partner agencies and the communities of West Yorkshire to progress our work in protecting the most vulnerable people from becoming a victim of doorstep crime.”

Both bodies are asking people to be on their guard and not let strangers into their homes. They are also recommending that residents:

  • Always keep their doors locked
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash in the house
  • Do not do business with doorstep callers and feel confident to say ‘no’ if someone asks to come inside, for example to use the toilet
  • Always ask callers for proof of identification – which they can pass through the letterbox.

They are asking people to keep an eye on visitors to elderly, and potentially vulnerable, neighbours, too.

Any suspicious cold calling can be reported by calling Trading Standards on 08454 040506 or the police on 101.