Police warning after bogus energy caller at Sidmouth home

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 January 2015

Archant

Police have issued an urgent warning after a bogus energy man tried to enter the home of a partially-sighted, elderly woman in Sidmouth.

The caller knocked on the property between 2pm and 2.30pm on Tuesday, December 23, claiming he was from EDF and asked to read the meter.

After being refused entry by the resident, it is alleged he damaged the door to the garage and the car inside.

The 95-year-old’s son-in-law reported the matter to Sidmouth police.

Sergeant Andy Squires said: “Cold calling is a sales technique which some people find intimidating.

“We offer reassurance at our ‘have-your-say’ surgeries and have ‘no cold caller’ stickers available. The stickers are to prevent them [cold callers] even ringing the doorbell.”

Police ask residents to call 101 or use 999 if a cold caller is still in the area after visiting their home.

Following the bogus call, a community message from Devon and Cornwall Police was sent out on Christmas Eve to residents. The messages, which residents can sign up to receive, inform people of incidents in their area.

Councillor Geoff Turner said: “Residents need to take extra care, especially at this time of the year. Those living on their own can be vulnerable to answering the door and letting someone in.”

The councillor praised the community messaging system for alerting home owners. “I think it shows that the community messaging service is proving its worth,” he said.

Sidmouth Help Link offers the anti-cold-caller stickers as well as help to vulnerable and elderly residents about handling cold calling.

Co-ordinator Jenny Goodhall said: “We know East Devon is a target for cold callers and scams because of the number of elderly people. People need to know there is help and services available.”

An EDF Energy spokesman said staff would always show their photo ID and customers could phone the company to validate an identity.

“We take our customers’ safety very seriously,” said the spokesman. “All of our meter operatives adhere to the National Doorstep Cold Calling Protocol. If a customer is in any doubt that the person visiting their property is not a genuine caller, then we advise them to contact the police.”

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