Stoke-on-Trent City Council is urging residents to beware of rogue traders offering to check homes for frozen pipes.
Reports have been received of vulnerable people being visited by criminals claiming to be from a water company. Once they have gained access into the house the owner is distracted in the kitchen or bathroom while the burglars make away with valuables.
The warning comes as water companies in the UK publish details that they are taking a record number of calls for maintenance – three to four times more than the winter average. Frozen pipes and leaks are the main complaints after a sustained period of cold weather.
Just last week on the 8 January, there were three distraction burglaries in the Longton area. One of which was in Sandford Hill at the home of an 85 year old female where three men claimed to be from the water-board.
Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, said: “We have seen evidence of con artists taking advantage of the widespread problems with plumbing that the freezing weather conditions have caused.”
“We are urging residents to be vigilant with any trader turning up on their doorstep uninvited ““ should they need repairs or checks carried out we would advise them to call their water supplier and arrange for an engineer to visit by appointment.”
You can also contact the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Trader Register on 01785 330888 for a list of traders local to you. This scheme is run jointly by Staffordshire Trading Standards and Stoke-on-Trent Trading Standards, and all traders on the scheme have signed up to a code of practice which demonstrates a commitment to trade fairly.”
Should anyone have doubts about the credentials of a trader knocking on their door they should take up as many details as they can, including the registration number on the vehicle, and report them to their local trading standards service or the police.