‘Shocking’ rise in rogue traders in East Dunbartonshire

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Police and Trading Standards officers have established a new team to combat doorstep crime in East Dunbartonshire.

Operation Skipjack comes after rising reports of bogus workers targeting vulnerable and elderly residents.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector Lorna Gibson, told the Herald she was “shocked” at the number of incidents taking place.

She said: “The people who commit doorstep crime are deplorable. They deliberately target our elderly and vulnerable residents, defrauding them of their life savings.

“I was shocked at the number of these incidents taking place and I am determined to make East Dunbartonshire a no-go area for these so-called ‘workers’.”

The new team will target fraudsters offering to carry out property repair or home improvement work such as roofing or gardening.

Fraudsters initially quote a low price before increasing the amount substantially.

Police said residents are charged several thousand pounds, sometimes tens of thousands, for work that is unnecessary, poor quality, not completed or not carried out at all.

Criminals can initially appear legitimate and produce professional looking flyers with business premise addresses, website details and claims they are on trusted trader lists.

Chief Inspector Gibson added: “My new team will work hand in hand with Trading Standards Officers to gather intelligence, carry out joint enforcement and educate local groups on the scale of the issue and how as a community we can all come together to eradicate this crime.

“I also hope the establishment of this dedicated team will encourage persons who have been victims of doorstep crime to come forward and report it.”

Operation Skipjack hopes to emulate the success of a similar joint operation in Lanarkshire.

Officers will be involved in proactive intervention and enforcement work to combat crimes typically committed against older or vulnerable adults by criminals involved in cold calling on doorsteps.

Councillor Billy Hendry said: “Joint working with Police Scotland will ensure the most effective approach to tackling the scourge of doorstep fraud, a crime which affects the most vulnerable in our community.

“Where there is evidence of aggressive practices, unfair trading offences or doorstep fraud, this will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

“Trading Standards Officers can provide practical advice to help prevent you and your family becoming victims of doorstep fraud and deter criminals operating in your area.”