The county’s police officers have joined forces with their counterparts across the UK in a national crackdown on rogue traders.
The week-long Operation Rogue Trader was designed to disrupt cowboys targeting the elderly and vulnerable and to raise awareness of doorstep crime.
Officers from the Herts’ Operation Manhunt team worked alongside Trading Standards to speak to tradesmen and ensure they are reputable, while Safer Neighbourhood Teams delivered thousands of crime prevention leaflets to residents through the Hertfordshire Community Meals on wheels scheme.
The event targeted those who cold-call at the doors of the elderly and offer to do work on their home or garden, which is either unnecessary or vastly over-priced. The crooks often damage property deliberately in order to obtain money, leave work unfinished and use intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.
Operation Manhunt Det Sgt Ben Wright led the week of action in Herts and said: “This is a real partnership effort to target those who masquerade as legitimate traders in order to target vulnerable – largely elderly – residents in our communities.
“In Operation Manhunt we often see the devastating consequences on the victims of these types of crime, which can range from a one-off piece of work which is overpriced, to the larger scale frauds where offenders repeatedly return to a victim to extort money from them using pressure. So it is important that, through this week of action, we send a strong message that this is not tolerated in Hertfordshire.
“But it’s not just during this week we proactively target these offenders, in Hertfordshire we relentlessly pursue these criminals on a daily basis, through the dedicated Operation Manhunt team.
“I would urge people to take the opportunity to inform their relatives and neighbours of this crime type. It is also important that people keep an eye out for their older neighbours and contact police if they see work being done to their neighbour’s home and you think they may have been targeted in this way. We’d rather you contact police and it turn out to be legitimate, than not at all.”
David Gibson, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “This is a great example of partnership working to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Hertfordshire Constabulary, in particular the Operation Manhunt team, has made great waves in reducing crime which affects the elderly, but this dedicated week of action allows a concentrated effort, with Hertfordshire Trading Standards, to really push the message that Hertfordshire is a hostile county for rogue traders to operate in.”
Consumers and businesses can also call Hertfordshire Trading Standards on 01707 292429 for advice.