Strangers will take advantage


'DON'T make yourself an easy target' is the message from police in a new campaign to cut distraction burglaries in Sidmouth.The 'Stay Out Stranger' campaign aims to raise awareness of distraction burglaries, rogue traders and bogus callers and provide advice about how to avoid falling victim in your own home.DCI Mike Fowkes, who is leading the campaign, said: "These criminals prey on the vulnerable members of our society and leave many elderly people afraid to live in their own homes."We need to continue to robustly investigate distraction burglaries and ensure everyone can feel safe in their own home. Through our Stay Out Stranger campaign, we want to encourage everyone to follow a few simple steps to ensure they remain safe and keep strangers out."Leaflets giving people key advice on how to stay safe are available from Sidmouth Police Station. Residents are encouraged to keep their doors shut and use a spy-hole or window to check who is outside, and avoid keeping large amounts of cash at home.The campaign is being supported by South West Water and EDF Energy, who will also be sending out information to customers.A further safety initiative has also been launched in East and Mid Devon to help vulnerable and elderly residents feel safer. The Nominated Neighbour scheme involves a friend or neighbour checking the identity of any unknown callers, so the resident does not feel they are on their own.Nominated neighbour cards are available from Sidmouth police station, and inform the caller that the resident does not recognise them and asks them to go to the friend or neighbour, who's details are written on the card.That neighbour will then check the identity of the caller and accompany them back to the resident's home and stay while the necessary business is carried out.DCI Fowkes said: "While distraction burglaries remain rare in Devon and Cornwall, we want to ensure the number of such crimes committed falls even further. Anyone who has been a victim of a distraction burglary or who has seen or received a suspicious caller should call 999 immediately."l Protect yourself with the Herald - cut out our nominated neighbour poster on page 35 and put it in your door or window.

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