'You can't trust anybody' - campaigner's stern warning against distraction burglary (From Borehamwood Times)
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'You can't trust anybody' - Borehamwood resident Richard Jarvis speaks about distraction burglary
Bogus workmen who distract elderly people on their doorstep then steal from their home are the “lowest of the low and will not be tolerated”, a campaigner has warned.
Richard Jarvis, of Hartforde Road, gave the stern message days after two East London men were jailed for an attempted distraction burglary in Saddlers Path, Borehamwood.
The granddad is now fighting to make sure nobody else falls prey to the crime, after seeing firsthand the “misery and emotional stress” it causes.
Distraction burglars use several excuses to try to get into people's homes, such as claiming to be from the water company investigating a leak or an electrician there to read a meter.
He said: “Do not open the front door without checking who is behind it first, even if you are expecting someone.
“If someone is claiming to be a workman, ask them to put their card through the letter box. If they really are who they say they are then they will have no issue with this.
“Do not ring the number on the card as it could be for one of their accomplices. Instead ring the number on your utility bill to confirm whether they are supposed to be there.
“If in doubt or they do not go away, dial 999. The police would rather be called out to a false alarm instead of to a victim.”
Mr Jarvis spends his days telling people about the dangers of distraction burglary by visiting housebound residents and sheltered housing to show them a DVD about the crime.
He sells attack alarms, light timers and house alarms to help deter burglars, as well as forensic marking system smart water to help reunite stolen items with their owner.
Despite his efforts, he does not get paid for his time and remains humble about his work.
He added: “If it helps one person stay safe, I have done what I set out to do.
“Last year, I visited a woman who was left an emotional wreck after a man claiming to be a workman took a handbag from her front room.
“It took her 20 minutes just to get up and answer the door, so the man new very well she could not do anything about it. She ended up moving to a retirement home.
“Many elderly people are very set in their ways – for instance – they like to keep the front door open because it is what their parents did when they were a child.
“Times have changed now and I know that can be tough to understand, but front doors should be locked at all times.
“Distraction burglars are the lowest of the low. I will not tolerate this.
“The truth is you really can’t trust anybody.”