Every year some 200 Wiltshire householders - often the elderly and infirm - report that they have fallen victim to distraction burglars and bogus callers.
Distraction burglary is described as any crime where a falsehood, trick or distraction is used to gain, or try to gain, access to the premises to commit burglary.
Distraction burglaries are not spontaneous crimes committed by opportunists for a few pounds, they are well organised groups that travel hundreds of miles to target Wiltshire and the surrounding counties.
Distraction burglars tend to use a number of ruses in order to gain entry into people’s homes, often posing as utility workers, or council officials claiming to be from the ‘Water Board’ is a particular favourite. It is often assumed by the public that distraction burglars are men - this is not always the case, these groups often include women and children as well.
In addition to distraction burglars, doorstep crime also encompasses rogue traders. This is where bogus gardeners or builders carry out inferior work or repairs on a property and then charge extortionate amounts of money for below standard work.
Wiltshire Police are keen to raise the awareness of this crime and as such a month long PR and Media campaign to promote the SOS - STAY OUT STRANGER message was developed.
The campaign began on 6th July 2007 and ran until the 3rd August 2007. The campaign utilised editorial print advertising and radio advertisements as well as promotional leaflets, flyers and stickers.
The campaign targeted elderly and vulnerable members of the community and their friends, relatives and neighbours.
The campaign aimed to:
- Raise the awareness of the crime withboth target audiences
- Educate the elderly and vulnerable to keep the door shut if they do not recognise the caller
- Advise the elderly and vulnerable not to keep large amounts of cash at home
- Encourage the elderly and vulnerable to phone 999 if they see anything suspicious
- Request that friends, neighbours and relatives of the victim group re-iterate the SOS message, the importance of not keeping large amounts of cash at home and if they see anything suspicious to call 999 immediately
PDF's of the campaign literature are available for download:
A5 leaflet (targeted at the elderly and vulnerable)
DL leaflet (aimed at friends, relatives and neighbours)
A5 8 page booklet (targeted at the elderly and vulnerable)
Stickers for the INSIDE of doors (targeted at the elderly and vulnerable)