Crackdown on rogue traders

PUBLISHED: 16:57 15 June 2007 | UPDATED: 22:53 28 May 2010

POLICE and partner agencies today (Fri) held a county-wide crackdown on bogus rogue traders who prey on vulnerable people.

Operation Rogue Trader involved teams of officers working alongside officers from Trading Standards, local authorities and HM Reve

POLICE and partner agencies today (Fri) held a county-wide crackdown on bogus "rogue traders" who prey on vulnerable people.

Operation Rogue Trader involved teams of officers working alongside officers from Trading Standards, local authorities and HM Revenue and Customs to target known "hot-spot" areas.

A total of more than 60 officers from the partner agencies took part in the operation which was part of a national day of action.

Areas covered by the operation included Peterborough, Eye, Cambridge, Sawston, Ely, Huntingdon, St Neots, St Ives and Wisbech.

Intelligence indicates that conmen who carry out building maintenance and resurfacing work are also responsible for offences including burglary, deception, theft, criminal damage and harassment.

They often charge large amounts of money for substandard, or no, work and steal from victims if given the chance.

Police also believe the same bogus traders may be responsible for stealing construction machinery, while Trading Standards experts suspect they are flouting consumer protection legislation.

Today, officers carried out patrols in areas where so-called "cold callers" and rogue traders are known to operate.

All operational officers in the county were asked to provide intelligence for the operation and the force's ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) unit was in operation.

Inspector Billy Bremner said: "Rogue trading and the crime associated with it is a priority for the force and today's operation was part of an ongoing campaign to tackle it.

"These traders ply their despicable trade across the county, and the country as a whole, throughout the year and it is important residents are aware of how they operate.

"We hope this action sends out a clear warning to those who commit crimes against elderly and vulnerable victims.

"I would urge anyone with information about this type of activity to contact police or Trading Standards."

According to Trading Standards, there were 11 reported rogue trader incidents in the county last month, three in April, as well as three attempted offences, but none in March.

In separate incidents this year, two elderly residents parted with nearly £60,000 in total.

Cathy Inman, from Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, said: "The victims of this sort of crime are often elderly and in many cases they are charged extortionate amounts of money for very poor quality work.

"We also know these conmen will intimidate victims and take them to banks to withdraw large amounts of money to pay for services.

"Trading Standards officers are pleased to be working in partnership with the police and we hope the joint action taken today demonstrates how seriously both agencies treat rogue trading and crime associated with it."

Police officers dealt with traders suspected of committing crimes, while Trading Standards officers handled issues surrounding trading standards or consumer protection and local authority officers made sure vehicles carrying waste were certified to do so.

Police also took the opportunity to check vehicles being used by traders to ensure they meet regulations and to ensure tools and plant equipment being used are not stolen.

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