A week-long operation to clamp down on rogue traders in Wiltshire took place this week, to prevent Wiltshire residents, particularly those who are vulnerable, from becoming victims of crime.
Wiltshire Council officers from trading standards and environmental services launched national campaign Operation Rogue Trader locally, a national campaign, with Wiltshire Police and other partner agencies.
Activities included roadside stop checks and conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.
During the operation enforcement officers carried out checks on 64 businesses, who were stopped by Wiltshire Police. Trading standards issued advice to 22 businesses, environmental enforcement officers identified 10 businesses carrying waste without a waste carrier's licence or waste transfer documentation. These offences will be followed up by officers which could result in fixed penalty notices being issued to offenders if documentation cannot be provided. In addition, officers were looking at all manner of businesses who deal with commercial waste, garden/tree works and construction vehicles. These checks were conducted to reduce the amount of illegal deposits or fly-tipping of waste throughout Wiltshire.
Rogue traders often offer gardening, roofing or driveway work or maintenance services at initially cheap rates but the quality of work is substandard or unnecessary and the final price extortionate. They regularly use aggressive sales techniques to pressurise often vulnerable consumers into making hasty decisions.
Jerry Wickham, cabinet member for public protection, said: " A rogue trader on TV or in movies is often portrayed as a cheeky wheeler-dealer type, but the reality couldn't be further away from that. These doorstep criminals target often vulnerable members of our communities to part with their hard earned money for unnecessary, overpriced and low-quality work - and the effects can be devastating.
"The vast majority of businesses in Wiltshire are good, honest and hardworking, and it's a real shame that there are criminals out there that can damage their reputation.
"I am pleased with the action we've seen this week and I hope it sends out a clear message that this type of activity will not be tolerated, and we'll do everything in our power to stop it from happening."
Detective Sergeant Anthony King from the Wiltshire Police Community Tasking Team said: "Operation Rogue Trader is an important reminder to us all that there are people out there who are trying to take advantage of those most vulnerable in our county.
"We all need to be vigilant to this type of crime, which can have a long lasting financial and emotional impact for its victims.
"As a Force we want to send a clear message out to the perpetrators of this crime, it will not be tolerated in Wiltshire. Together with our partners we will work to educate the public and prosecute those who carry out this crime.
"We ask that the community follow advice from Trading Standards, look out for any vulnerable or elderly friends and relatives who might be particularly at risk and do your homework before engaging anyone to carryout work on your property."
Householders are advised:
If anyone suspects a rogue trader is at the door, they should contact the police by dialling 101. In an emergency, call 999. People can also report rogue traders to local trading standards by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.