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Message from Slough police station,Thursday 17 December.

Unfortunately we had a reported incident yesterday (16/12) where an elderly couple in the Wexham area of the town suffered a distraction burglary.It appears 2 males in plain clothes called to their home shortly after 9pm claiming to be police officers and produced some form of ID which gained them entry.Once inside,the offenders then entered a bedroom area and after having left it was discovered that a sum of cash had been taken.There were similar incidents that occurred in another part of Thames Valley yesterday and some advice to help avoid being a victim is as follows together with some information on rogue traders:

Distraction Burglary.
Often the offenders have gained entry into homes masquerading as tradesmen or water board employees informing the householder that they "need to check the water supply by turning the taps on"
With the occupier distracted the home is searched for valuables and the offenders make good their escape. On occasions victims are unaware of their loss until some hours after the event.
Needless to say consequences of this type of despicable crime can be catastrophic for all those affected, often the chosen victims are elderly or vulnerable.
If you do have elderly family members, friends or neighbours please use this time of year to pay them a visit and advise them of the dangers.

Summary of Information to Help You Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Distraction Burglar:
If someone knocks on your door: check who it is by looking through a window or peep-hole.
If it's not someone you know and trust or a business caller who has not made a pre-arranged appointment, do NOT open the door.
This advice applies whatever uniform the caller appears to be wearing or ID card they are carrying and however urgent their business claims to be.In the event of police officers calling to your door especially in plain clothes,ask for their shoulder numbers and call 0845 8 505 505 and the person at the other end will confirm who they claim to be.
Tell unexpected business callers to leave and come back later at an agreed time when you can have someone else with you.
In the meantime, check their credentials by calling the organisation they claim to represent. Do so by looking up the number in your telephone book rather than using one on any card they might give you as this could simply put you through to an accomplice of a potential offender.

Summary of Information to help you avoid becoming the victim of a rogue trader:
Before you decide to go ahead with work, get more than one quote so that you can be sure the price is reasonable.
Have a clear agreement about the work to be done and the cost of the work.
Check with friends or neighbours for the names of reputable and reliable businesses.
Be prepared to wait for trader recommended to you. Good workmen will be busy and will not always be able to fit you in immediately.
If you are not able to get a recommendation, look for a firm that is a member of a trade association as this can sometimes help if things go wrong. Check with the trade association before agreeing to work that the trader is currently a member.
Make sure you have the proper name and address of the trader before you agree to proceed with the work.
Agree in advance how and when payment will be made.