Neighbourhood Watch update – Sept 2017

Rogue Traders – Maidstone

 

Maidstone residents are being warned to be on their guard against rogue traders and bogus callers following a report that some men tried to con a man in his 90s out of a large amount of money.

Police officers received a report that the men approached the victim at his address in the Mote Avenue area on Thursday 6 July 2017 seeking to repair his driveway.

They revisited him at around 1pm on Monday 10 July and reportedly demanded a larger amount cash in advance of the work being started. The victim then went to his bank to withdraw the money.

Two men from Maidstone aged 58 and 28, and a boy aged 16 from Wales, were subsequently arrested on suspicion of fraud. They have been released pending further investigation.

Chief Inspector Mick Gardner said: ‘We are treating this as an isolated case and would like remind people how they can stay safer in their homes.

’A rogue trader is someone who cold calls at your home, offers services or goods and then overcharges you for them. This includes overcharging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately to get money for the repairs, leaving work unfinished and intimidating someone to get money.

‘Rogue traders are also known to gain entry to houses where they are working to steal cash and other property.’

Simple precautions can prevent you being a victim of this type of crime:

  • Lock your back doors and windows before answering your front door. Never leave your front door unattended. If you need to get something, close it until you return.
  • Use a spyhole and ask who the caller is through the door first, then keep the door on the chain.
  • Check their identification, even if they have a pre-arranged appointment.
  • If you are not expecting the caller and they do not carry an ID card, do not let them in.
  • If you have any doubts about whether the caller is genuine, ask them to leave and come back at a time convenient to you and when you’ve had a chance to ask someone to be with you. You can also contact Trading Standards with their vehicle details, company name, contact details and any other information you have.
  • Before allowing any work to be carried out, it is best to obtain a quote or get a second quote from a recognised firm.
  • Do not pay anyone for work before it is carried out, and certainly never go to the bank to draw out cash if a lift is offered by the people who knock on the door.

 

Doorstep criminals – Maidstone

Residents in villages around Maidstone are being warned to be on their guard against doorstep criminals following two reports of suspicious callers.

Police officers received a report that at around 3.30pm on Friday 14 July 2017, three men called at an address in Coxheath without an appointment and offered to fix three roof tiles.

The occupant, a woman in her 80s, agreed to the work without confirming a price and was asked for a large amount of cash when it had been completed.

She paid a proportion of the money and the men left refusing to provide a receipt.

Police also received a report that on Monday 10 July 2017, some men had called at an address in Mereworth without an appointment and offered to clean the gutters.

The householder, a woman in her 70s, paid some cash for completion of the work; however, the occupant has since received a considerable number of unwanted calls offering to complete further unnecessary repairs at the house.

Inspector Rachel Cumberland said: ‘Maidstone residents should be alert if a tradesman visits without an appointment and suggests work needs to be completed on the house.

‘In some cases, occupants are overcharged for minor repairs and then intimidated when they question the cost.

‘Anybody who is pestered by unwanted cold callers should advise them that contact will be made with Trading Standards and if necessary the police.’

 

Advice

To try and minimise your risk of employing a doorstep criminal:

  • Do not deal with doorstep callers offering work on your home or garden and never pay in cash.
  • Check that the tradesperson is from the company they say they are from.
  • Ask for quotes in writing.
  • Ring more than three traders to get a feel for an average price for the job.
  • Remember traders must give you written notice of your right to 14 days cancellation when agreeing to do work at your home, including work gained from a cold call.
  • If you believe a doorstep crime is happening or about to happen call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Useful Contacts

  • For advice and information, members of the public should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506, or visit the www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
  • Kent County Council Trading Standards recommends checkatrade.com, online or call 0333 0146 190, for reputable Kent traders.

 

Theft from van – Maidstone

Kent Police is reminding van owners to lock their vehicles and remove valuables after receiving a report of a theft in Roseholme, Maidstone.

At around 10.45pm on Tuesday 18 July 2017, four men were reported to have stolen gardening equipment from a van.

Two of the men drove away in a car described as a VW Golf and the other two men described as wearing a white jumper and black jumper walked away from the scene.

Property including a drill, hedge trimmer, leaf blower and two strimmers were stolen.

Inspector Rachael Cumberland said: ‘The theft of tools and equipment from work vans can have a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods, so we would urge van owners to do all they can to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.’

There are a number of steps which can be taken to help prevent items being stolen from vans:

  • Remove all tools and equipment from your vehicle when it’s unattended.
  • Park in a well-lit secure location in a locked garage or on a driveway if possible.
  • Consider investing in additional locks that you can fit to your van.
  • Consider investing in CCTV and sensors which alert you when someone walks near your vehicle or enters the driveway.
  • Have valuables `security marked’ so it makes them harder to sell on if they are stolen.
  • Report anyone acting suspiciously.

Anyone who saw the men or who has information that may help is asked to contact Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting reference YY/020019/17.

Alternatively contact Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Man charged with supplying drugs in prison at Maidstone

A man visiting HMP Maidstone has been charged with supplying drugs to a prisoner.

Henry Blankson, 37, of Yelverton Road, Bournemouth was arrested on Tuesday 25 July 2017 and was subsequently charged with supplying Class A drugs to a prisoner and possession of Class B drugs.

He has been bailed to appear before Maidstone Magistrates Court on Friday 8 September 2017.

Drivers using phones and watching DVDs caught in a Kent Police operation

Kent Police Officers tackling dangerous driving have stopped and fined a lorry driver for watching a movie on the M20.

When looking inside the vehicle, they found the man could only see a small fraction of the road every time he glanced at his laptop screen.

He was one of dozens of drivers who were stopped, fined, given points or educational advice in a special roads policing operation.

From Monday 17 July 2017 to Friday 21 July 2017, Kent Police roads policing officers patrolled the M20 in an unmarked Large Goods Vehicle.

The 40-tonne lorry allows officers to see into cars and larger vehicles.

Motorists caught committing driving offences were filmed and then stopped by marked police cars.

In one case, a sports car was stopped for driving at 105mph on the M20 Coastbound between junctions 10 and 11.

Across the five days, 37 drivers were stopped for using mobile devices, 33 for speeding, two for driving an inappropriate vehicle in lane three, and one for a child seatbelt offence.

In total, 25 fines were issued, 15 were reported for offences, and in 33 cases advice was given by officers.

Superintendent Andrew Reeves said: ‘This five day operation has made it clear that despite the costs a minority of motorists are still prepared to break the law.

‘Any momentary lapse in concentration, such as talking on the phone, texting or looking at a device such as a laptop in the vehicle, can have disastrous and life-changing consequences.

‘It is for this reason that such offences can carry a large fine and six points on your licence.

‘It is completely unacceptable behaviour, which puts the individual and other road users at risk.

‘I urge those caught in this operation and others who have used such devices while driving to learn from their mistakes and drive safely in future.’

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, who spent a day with the officers driving the unmarked lorry, said: ‘Crime is important no matter where it takes place – that includes offences committed in residential, business and online environments, and on our roads too.

‘I have made providing effective roads policing a priority for Kent Police and it was good to spend the day with the Commercial Vehicle Unit and see innovative enforcement action being undertaken by a dedicated team of officers. It was really fascinating.

‘It was also quite scary to see what people were doing at the wheel. As a passenger, I saw several people texting or using a phone while driving.

‘Officers also pulled over a sports car for doing well over 100mph on a busy stretch of the M20, and I’m pleased to say the driver was dealt with on the spot.’

Drink and drug driving – Summer enforcement  

Police officers have arrested 171 people during a crackdown on motorists who drive vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Every summer, Kent Police runs a campaign to target those who put themselves and others in danger by driving vehicles on roads despite being over the legal limit of alcohol or after taking controlled drugs.

The campaign coincided with the start of the summer, when there is generally an increase in traffic passing through the county.

Officers took a focused approach to target those who recklessly drink and drug drive and conducted road checks at high risk locations.

Over the month, officers across Kent arrested a total of 142 people for either driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle in excess of the prescribed alcohol limit, and 29 for being unfit to drive through drugs.

Chief Inspector Peter Steenhuis from Kent Police’s Roads Policing Unit said: `I am pleased that our officers have been able to stop a number of irresponsible drivers from potentially causing harm on Kent’s roads.

`Drivers should never get behind the wheel if they have had alcohol or are under the influence of controlled drugs as they significantly increase the chances of harming themselves and others.

`Getting a drink or drug driving conviction could cost you your driving licence, and perhaps even your job, but worse still you could be responsible for causing someone serious injury or death.

`There is no safe amount of alcohol to have in your system when driving, so if you plan to have an alcoholic drink you should make alternative arrangements to get home.’

Kent County Council Road Safety Team Leader Vicky Harvey said:  ‘Just one drink can increase the chances of having a crash, sometimes with tragic consequences for you, anyone you hit and their families.

‘Likewise with drugs – it’s not just illegal but it will impair your driving ability.

‘Both substances make it difficult to concentrate, to react in an emergency, to perceive accurately what’s going on around you and to judge properly the best course of action to avoid disaster.

‘We support police enforcement by reminding drivers throughout the year of the risks they take, whether through drink or drugs, through our educational campaigns which can be viewed at kentroadsafety.com

‘The message is simple – if you’re driving, don’t drink and don’t take drugs.’

Maidstone paedophile jailed for 12 years

A sex offender from Maidstone responsible for the systematic abuse of three children has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Martyn Waller repeatedly targeted his victims between 2000 and 2012, committing offences which included rape.
Waller, aged 55 and formerly of Westmorland Road, Maidstone, was arrested on 25 January, 2016 after allegations relating to one of the victims were made to Kent Police.
An investigation then revealed he had also repeatedly preyed upon other children.
Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court, Waller pleaded guilty to nine charges including Indecent Assault, Indecency with a Child, and Sexual Activity with a child.
He was sentenced on 28 July and will be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and also placed on the sex offender’s register indefinitely.

Detective Constable Emma Crombie of Kent Police’s Public Protection Unit said: Waller is a predatory paedophile, who subjected young children to the most appalling abuse and used their fear to ensure they complied with his demands.
‘I would like to thank the victims, who have been incredibly brave to come forward and give evidence against Waller.
‘Sadly, they will no doubt carry the mental scars of his crimes with them for a long time but I hope they will be able to move forward from this, knowing he is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.
‘Successful convictions such as this are just one of the reasons we continue to urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse to contact the police.
‘It is never too late to report any sexual offence and we will always treat any information with the upmost confidence and sensitivity.’

 

Counterfeit goods – Maidstone

Kent Police and KCC Trading Standards are warning shoppers not to buy suspected fake goods from rogue traders on the street.

Officers have received reports that a group of men in the town centre at Maidstone have been selling perfume from carrier bags at lower than retail prices to pedestrians.

Inspector Rachael Cumberland of Maidstone’s Community Support Unit said: ‘If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting a great deal, you may be buying stolen or counterfeit goods.

‘Buyers will often find that their purchase turns out to be poor quality and this may make the product unusable or even unsafe.’

Clive Phillips, KCC Trading Standards Operations Manager, said: ‘If you buy an item from a complete stranger, whatever they are selling will have no traceability, so the goods could turn out to be either stolen or counterfeit. In addition, you will probably be unable to contact the seller again if you have any complaints.

‘For those reasons, we always advise the public to purchase from a legitimate retail outlet.’

If you think you have been sold counterfeit goods, or if you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Alternatively report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.

If you suspect you have been offered stolen property call Kent Police on 101.

Theft of motorcycles – Maidstone

Kent Police is reminding motorbike and moped owners to park their vehicles securely after receiving recent reports of thefts in the South Maidstone area.

Between 8.30pm on Sunday 13 August and 10am on Monday 14 August 2017, a Honda WW125 motorbike and clothing were reportedly stolen from the front garden of an address at Wootton Close.

Over the same night between 9.30pm and 6am, a Yamaha Verago 750 motorbike was reported as stolen from the front garden of an address in Hastings Road.

Police also received a report that a Yamaha WR 125X had been stolen by two people from a front garden in Highcroft Green at 2.48am on Monday 14 August.  It was subsequently found burnt out in Park Wood Walk.

Two teenagers were also reported to have stolen a Honda CB125F motorcycle from Cumberland Avenue at 4.45am on Monday 14 August. They were described as wearing a hooded top and a black jacket. The motorbike was abandoned nearby.

A Sinnis Harrier moped was also reportedly stolen from a driveway in Quarry Road between 2am and 2.18am on the same morning.

Inspector Rachael Cumberland of Maidstone Police’s Community Support Unit said:

‘I would urge motorcycle and moped owners who cannot park in a garage or other building to secure their motorbikes and mopeds to an anchor point in the ground.

‘You should also take any clothing, helmets or navigation devices into your house overnight.’

Further details are available by following this link on the Kent police website: https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/theft/bicycle-and-motorbike-theft/

Anyone with information that can help is asked to contact Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting reference YY/23091/17.

Alternatively contact Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Security advice following vehicle crime in Wouldham

Kent Police officers are issuing security advice following reports of a number of vehicle crimes in Wouldham.

Six incidents are reported to have occurred overnight between Sunday 13 August and Monday 14 August.

Vehicles were either broken into or interfered with in Castle Street, Ferry Lane, Nelson Road and Rectory Close.

Enquiries are ongoing into each incident.

Detective Inspector Maxine Martin said: ‘Locking and alarming your vehicle can be the most effective way in stopping opportunistic thieves.

‘However, it’s important to also remove valuable items and park in a secure car park or a well-lit location whenever possible.

‘If you’ve been the victim of vehicle crime please report it to 101, or if the incident is ongoing please dial 999.’

Other precautions include making a note of your chassis number, fitting a tracker device, and fitting tamper-proof plate screws.

Also consider wiping away suction marks left on your windscreen by satellite navigation equipment.

Thieves may take these suction marks as evidence of expensive equipment inside the vehicle.