Crack-down on rogue traders

ROGUE traders and doors step sellers were tackled by police and Trading Standards in a special operation this week.

Across the county, on Wednesday, there were multi agency patrols and stop checks with police, Trading Standards and the Environment Agency under the code name of Operation Liberal.

PCSOs have conducted crime prevention patrols in hotspot areas, advising and reassuring vulnerable people about the steps they can take to protect themselves from both rogue traders and distraction burglars and where they can find further information and support.

Sergeant Chris Lane said: “In Sussex, police, working with trading standards and other agencies, are using intelligence and Automated Numberplate Recognition cameras to seek out vehicles used by people suspected of being involved in rogue trading activity.

“The scale of the problem is difficult to quantify as often victims do not report offences, and the offences reported can be recorded in several different ways, including fraud, theft and intimidation.

“However anecdotal evidence makes it very clear that this is an issue that law enforcement needs to focus on. As well as seeking offenders we are advising vulnerable people on how to protect themselves from these collous criminals.”

Lead for Operation Liberal Peter Goodman said: “Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases are their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When some falls foul of a rogue trading scam, research shows it has a seriously detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.

“Those involved in this form of illegal activity do not tend to be law abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By involving a range of differnet agencies, we can seriously hamper their offending patters and get them off the streets.”

People can report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06, but anyone with information that would lead to the arrest of any distraction burglar or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency. The last operation in 2011 saw more than 200 arrested and £450,000 worth of property recovered.