Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division launches Operation Monarda - tackling doorstep crime

Issued by Police Scotland

Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division today renewed its commitment to eradicating the scourge of doorstep crime and bogus callers.

Operation Monarda drives home the message: “If In Doubt, Keep Them Out”.

If someone arrives to your home unexpectedly:

  • ensure your windows and doors are secure
  • make use of door chains and bars
  • don’t allow anyone entry to your home unless you have verified their identity by telephone.

Operation Monarda brings together public, private and third sector organisations to help minimise risk and prevent harm to vulnerable and older people from criminals who commit doorstep crime. It operates as a preventative project, and encompasses engagement work with the general public, as well as enforcement work to target criminals.
Victims of bogus callers and doorstep crime are often unaware the crime has been committed, feel so embarrassed they feel unable to go to the police, as well as fearing a loss of independence, and facing financial uncertainty in the future.

Doorstep crime occurs across Scotland, in every policing division, with more than 1,000 incidents recorded between 1 August 2014 and 13 February 2015. Approximately £400,000 was taken from victims in that time.

Speaking at the Highland and Islands Division launch today, Superintendent Mark MacKay said:

“Bogus callers and associated doorstep crime is a vastly under-reported crime so we hope the campaign will encourage members of the public to report incidents. Throughout the campaign we will be raising awareness within communities of this despicable crime and offering simple but effective advice to the public on how to being targeted.

“Doorstep crime can affect anyone but we know that the elderly can be particularly vulnerable. Bogus callers and rogue traders can be extremely convincing in their methods in securing the confidence of potential victims. Sadly, many people are convinced by their lies; with potentially devastating affects for individuals and families, financial and otherwise.

"Even if you do not feel you are likely to fall victim to this type of crime, it is very important to pass on advice to friends, neighbours or family members who may be more likely to be targeted and provide them with the information and confidence to say no.”
“We don’t recommend dealing with cold-callers for any form of property maintenance or repairs to your home or garden, so if you have any doubts, do not let them into your house. Householders are advised to seek a number of quotes from reputable companies when planning to have work carried out; professional firms will be happy to provide description of the work they plan to carry out and what the price entails. Genuine traders will appreciate the need for a cooling off period.

"In the Highlands we have a long history of partnership working with Highland Council Trading Standards. We hope by jointly raising awareness and providing advice on such campaigns as the 'Nominated Neighbour Scheme', we will strengthen our communities against doorstep crime. If you have any concerns relating to suspicious activity taking place at the home of a neighbour, friend or family member, please contact Police Scotland or Trading Standards immediately.”

Gordon Robb, Trading Standards Manager with Highland Council said:

“Trading Standards welcome the launch of the campaign today and are pleased to be able to again work with Police Scotland in what has been proved over the last few years to be a very worthwhile combined activity to combat a serious problem in our communities. Doorstep crime remains a national priority for Trading Standards services in Scotland and we in Highland are committed to working with our partners and using the combined powers available to tackle this unscrupulous crime. 

“During this campaign we are also offering additional support to individuals and local business through the facebook chat and drop in business advice sessions. We are fully aware that doorstep crime still remains vastly under reported and we would urge residents, businesses, neighbours and their families and friends to report any suspicions they have immediately.

“Any initiative that helps in combating the highly undesirable and often criminal behaviour by some traders, who seek to target the most vulnerable in our community, is to be firmly welcomed.”

David Crawley from Crimestoppers Scotland said:

“Crimestoppers is an independent charity which is committed to helping victims of crime, or those who live in fear of crime, to be able to report, or provide information about crime, anonymously.

“As part of this commitment to helping all members of society, we are delighted to support this campaign which is focused on beating doorstep crime across Scotland. This type of crime often sees vulnerable and older people targeted, so if you have information regarding who is responsible, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/.”

Inverness resident Mrs Muriel Neill attended today’s launch to speak about her recent experience with bogus callers at her home.

Mrs Neill (87) lives alone in a quiet street in the city and was approached by three men claiming to work for a company that had previously carried out work on her roof. After convincing Mrs Neill to allow them access to her property, they proceeded to pressure Mrs Neill in an intimidating manner to exchange money for unnecessary work. Fortunately, Mrs Neill was not convinced and firmly asked the men to leave.

Understandably shaken by her experience, Mrs Neill contacted Trading Standards straight away to report the incident. Contact was then made with Police Scotland to allow enquiries to take place. 

Police Scotland will continue to work with partner agencies to tackle bogus callers and doorstep crime as part of our focus of keeping people safe.

23 Mar 2015