Police have urged people to be wary of doorstep callers following an incident in Northumberland.
Last week a 68-year-old woman answered a knock at her door from a man and woman who offered to cut down some trees in her garden.
Callers who turn up unannounced, whether they’re claiming to be carrying out work or selling something, should always be treated with caution.Superintendent Steve Howes
She agreed and the work was carried out, but she was charged £5,000 when it was only worth a few hundred pounds.
The incident happened in Warkworth on Monday, March 9, and police say the pair may have targeted residents in other parts of Northumberland.
Detective Inspector Dave Swinburne said: “Officers are making enquires into this incident and we’re keen to hear from anyone who may have any information about these two people.
“If anyone saw anyone suspicious in Warkworth or other areas of Northumberland, or may have received a call from a man or woman claiming to be carrying out work in the area we would ask them to get in contact.”
The young man and woman were in a white van. The man is described as white, aged approximately 31 to 32, 5ft 6ins tall, of slim build, with short dark hair and a Scottish accent. The woman was 20 to 25, with her hair worn in a long, dark ponytail.
Operation Strongbow is a Northumbria Police initiative that targets doorstep crimes and distraction burglaries.
Superintendent Steve Howes said: “Callers who turn up unannounced, whether they’re claiming to be carrying out work or selling something, should always be treated with caution.
“This is one example where this has resulted in extortionate amounts being charged for relatively small work.
“It’s a timely reminder for people to be vigilant. Always get quotes from a number of companies before agreeing to work being done, and check identities of workmen and the company’s credentials.
“Never agree to work being done by people who cold-call at your home, and never leave people alone in the house, even for a few seconds. I’d also advise to move out of sight any cash or valuables.
“Genuine callers will not mind being asked to come back at a different time so their identification can be checked, or while arrangements are made for a relative or friend to be present when they return.”
He added: “People should also look out for elderly relatives and neighbours and report any suspicious people or vehicles to police. If in doubt contact officers.”
To report any information about the incident contact Northumbria Police on 101, ext 69191, quoting reference 670 150315, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.