Gardaí in Bantry are investigating an incident where suspects ‘cold called’ to an elderly lady’s home, uninvited, and made her feel pressurised into paying an extortionate price for 12 chainsaws, 11 generators, seven power washer and assorted tools which she had no use for and did not want.
The lady, who lives alone, handed over a substantial amount of money made up of several cheques. Most of the cheques were able to be cancelled before being cashed.
Gardaí have now issued an appeal to anyone who may have also been a victim of such a crime to contact us at any Garda Station.
Gardaí are also asking that people make elderly family members, neighbours or friends aware of the incident and the crime prevention advice from An Garda Siochana.
Speaking at Anglesea Street Garda Station, Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Tony Davis said: "This is a heinous crime that was committed as it targets the more vulnerable members of our communities."
"If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours and see or hear about bogus traders doing the rounds, let them and ourselves know so we can put out additional patrols. If you suspect that anyone who calls to your door selling goods or services is not who they say they are, tell them you are not interested and call the Gardaí immediately."
"Genuine tradespeople won’t be offended by any queries the Gardaí may make. If you are answering the door to ‘cold callers’, apply the chain or door limiter before opening the door. I would also ask that If anyone feels like they or someone they know has been a victim of being sold goods for extortionate prices, or paid for a service that was not carried out, to call any Garda station and report the matter."
Sgt Davis added: "Our Community Policing units are always on hand to pay regular visits to anyone who might feel susceptible to any type of crime. We regularly host outings and pay visits to senior citizen’s groups and clubs so the people get to know their local Community Policing Unit and build up a relationship with them."
No further details are available about the investigation as it is currently before the courts. Under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001, a person guilty of deception, on indictment, can face a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.
If a person calls to your door offering you professional trade services or selling goods and you are worried they are not bona fide, tell the caller that you never employ tradespeople or buy goods from people who ‘cold call’ to your door.
Ask for a brochure or documentation so you can carry out checks and verify their credibility. This should include a contact number and a V.A.T registered number. Be careful of documentation that only displays mobile contact numbers or incomplete addresses.
If you are satisfied that the company or individual(s) are credible and you want to make a purchase, ask for an itemised written quotation for the exact goods/services being offered. Never rely of the accuracy of the information, always verify the information yourself.
Always seek comparable estimates for services. Never engage a person who insists on a cash payment as it is untraceable. Never leave strangers, even bona fide workers, unsupervised in your home.