Last Thursday (2nd May) Worcester Park Police intercepted a vulnerable lady who was about to hand over her savings to a rogue trader, catching him red handed.
The lady had just been to the HSBC in Central Road to withdraw £1,200 for guttering work. But thanks to a local Police initiative with the Trading Standards, the staff at the bank had been trained to be on the lookout for behaviour which might mean the person was a victim of fraud.
On this occasion the bank staff called Sergeant Ashley Bennetts in the Police office next door and he went straight after the lady to her home, only a few hundred metres away, a mere 3 minutes and 20 seconds behind (according to CCTV footage).
On arrival at the lady’s home, Sergeant Bennetts found the rogue trader sitting in the rear living room expecting to see his victim with 1200 pounds for him but Sergeant Bennetts walked in instead. The trader was arrested on suspicion of fraud. He has been bailed pending a CPS decision.
The trader had no van, no tools and there was no sign of any work having been completed. Though the trader was arrested the problem police have is proving such offences in court, especially when the victim is suffering from dementia. It is good to know however that the Police and Trading Standards 'bank protocol' initiative has worked and that local bank and Post Office staff feel more confident to help vulnerable people if they feel they might be being a victim of fraud, or even just to help customers to conceal their purses better etc.
Even though it is going to be difficult to secure a conviction in court, Sergeant Bennetts told the blog that he found this one to be a "particularly satisfying arrest".
The Police would like to add that, “if the public see anything suspicious such as an elderly neighbour having unusual visitors call 999 or 101. Do not be afraid, you are not wasting police time. Any genuine trader will be happy to speak to police. It is better to call than to feel you are wasting police time. You are not.”