Two-pronged operation to catch out rogue traders in Devon
- Credit: Archant
Businesses in Sidmouth and East Devon have backed a day of action to tackle rogue traders in the county.
In a multi-agency operation, Devon and Cornwall Police, Driver Vehicle Safety Agency (DVSA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Devon and Somerset Trading Standards joined forces to engage the community and disrupt offenders.
Officers from Sidmouth neighbourhood police team were part of Operation Rogue Trader last Thursday, helping with spot-checks in Newton Poppleford.
Police cars with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software were stationed at points at either end of the village.
More than 75 vehicles were stopped and checked, with the DVSA prohibiting four vehicles from leaving the site until they had been fixed.
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Special Constable Sergeant Paul Taylor, from Exeter, said: “It’s been set up because, at this time of year, rogue trading increases.
“The operation was a proactive response in the area of East Devon to identify and disrupt offenders committing rogue trading and bogus-caller offences.
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“It’s also a two-strand thing. It’s important to really engage with the community and the building trade to make sure they are our eyes and ears.”
Last year, police received 159 reports of rogue traders and bogus and cold callers operating in Exeter, Mid and East Devon, 54 of which were in the rural East Devon area.
As part of the recent operation, the HMRC fuel team tested 40 vehicles for red diesel and officers also handed out a number of traffic tickets and warnings to motorists.
Trading standards officers also visited areas around East Devon with police community support officers (PCSOs) to talk to traders and offer residents advice on how to prevent doorstep crime.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for trading standards, said the council was working hard to tackle ‘criminals’ who took advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques.
He said: “We will not tolerate such dishonest trading activity. We will continue to do all we can to protect our residents, particularly the most vulnerable, and safeguard the economic interests of legitimate local businesses from such damaging, unfair trading practices.”
For information about scams and doorstep crime, visit www.devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk.