Bogus callers

If in doubt, keep them out!

Most callers to your home are genuine, but there are those who are not and precautions need to be taken to prevent these bogus callers getting into your home.

You may feel it is rude to refuse entry to someone, but it is your doorstep and therefore, your decision. There is a lot you can do a lot to prevent yourself, your family or friends from becoming victims whatever the weather and time of year.

Remember never leave the door unlocked and do not to leave the keys in unsafe places such as under the doormat or plant pot for you to gain access to the property.

Things to be aware of:

  • Criminals using false identities to try and get into your home to steal are known as ‘distraction burglars’ or ‘bogus callers’

  • Just because a caller says they’re from your water or gas company, the council, or even the police, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are

  • Bogus callers can also wear ordinary clothes, they can be children or adults wanting nothing more than a drink of water or to wash their hands - beware these requests, they are excuses to distract you

  • Be wary of unknown youngsters who call asking for a drink, searching for lost pets, or saying their football is in your garden - they may be trying to distract you from your door.

Remember it's your home. Don't be afraid to say ‘No’ and report anything suspicious to police.

The following advice will help to beat bogus callers:

  • Keep front and back doors locked (with keys taken out), even when at home

  • Stop and think if anyone is expected

  • Look through a spy hole or window to identify the caller

  • Put the door chain or door bar on first before opening the door, and keep it on whilst talking to the caller

  • Check their identity card carefully even if the caller has pre-arranged appointment

  • Don’t let visitors who are in a hurry, pressurise or confuse you - ask them to wait outside while you confirm who they are, genuine visitors won’t mind waiting

  • If you need to leave a caller standing outside while you collect or check something indoors, close the door and lock it

  • Never use a telephone number given by the caller – find the number in your telephone directory

  • If you are not comfortable ask the caller to return when someone is with you.

  • If you are not sure DO NOT LET THEM IN

Genuine callers will not mind waiting whilst their identities are being verified. Utility Companies or councils now offer a password identification system. Any callers from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity. Further information about password schemes can be obtained by contacting individual companies or visiting our Utilities Suppliers Contact page

Share the advice:

Tell family, friends and neighbours, especially older people, about these precautions and review their security as if it was your own home.

Further information:

Further advice is available from your local Crime Prevention Advisor at your local police station or agencies like Age UK or Citizens Advice - available on 08454 04 05 06 for free consumer advice.

A Home Office book ‘How to beat the bogus caller’ is also available to download.

Remember treat every stranger with caution.

If you are suspicious about a caller inform the police on 101 or in an Emergency dial 999.

Doorstep crime prevention in action:

How the doorstep crime prevention initiative has been helping people stay safe across the force:

Doorstep crime initiativePolice deliver crime prevention advice

Neighbourhood officers attended screenings at cinemas across the Northumbria Police region aimed at older audiences to hand out leaflets with advice on how to stay safe and prevent being taken in by bogus callers.

Films are screened on a week-day morning at cinemas in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and North Tyneside with films chosen specifically to appeal to older patrons. The club-like screenings attract large audiences who regularly meet up to attend popular films. 

The force is always looking at new ways to get crime prevention messages across to specific groups of people. These cinema screenings are a useful way for the force to reach older audiences who might benefit from this information. 

Pictured are PC Julie Waller and PCSO Kevin Cresswell handing out leaflets to cinema-goers at Silverlink.

Handyvan InitiativeJoint handy work to help victims

Police are working with partners to help crime victims with a handy crime prevention scheme.

Northumbria Police has been working with Safer Northumberland Partnership and the Age UK Handyvan scheme to help residents who are referred for crime prevention assistance. Residents who had been victims of burglary or bogus callers were considered for help. They received a visit and had their home security improved during the pilot scheme.

Those visited have also received information about how to safeguard against bogus callers.

Northumbria Police Crime Prevention Advisors have visited people in their home to assess what security measures were needed, including door or window locks, door chains or door viewers. Trained Age UK staff have then been installing the necessary equipment free of charge.

Pictured left to right Age UK staff with Ashington officers: Handyman Jeff Young, PC Julie Jameson, Elizabeth Simpson, Age UK Day Services Development Manager, PC Kelly French, Acting Chief Executive Katherine Shearer, Chair of the Board Richard Dobson.

Lambton LadiesPolice deliver crime prevention advice

Police have been visiting local events aimed at older people in the Washington area to deliver crime prevention advice.

Neighbourhood officers attended activities organised by associates of Age UK Sunderland to talk to older residents about how to stay safe from bogus callers.

Inspector Paul Stewart of Washington Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "These local events, which attract residents from around the Washington area, are a good way for us to get our crime prevention advice to the right people."

Director of Age UK Sunderland Alan Patchett said: “I am delighted that officers are visiting our day clubs with their crime prevention messages.  It will be really useful for older people and will offer them great reassurance."

For more information about events in Sunderland for older people go to

Pictured are members of the Lambton Ladies group with PCSO Simon Routledge.

Plus BusBus stops for crime prevention

Police jumped onboard the community 'Plus Bus' to bring crime prevention advice to older people.

The special bus service with an inbuilt mobile library is run by North Tyneside Council, Age UK North Tyneside and VODA (Voluntary Organisations Development Agency). It helps residents, especially older people, get about the borough and keep in touch. Plus Bus travels between community centres, shopping areas and sheltered accommodation.

Chief Inspector Mandy Shea, from North Tyneside Area Command, said: "Officers travel around the borough as part of their neighbourhood patrols, now they've stepped on board the bus to bring our crime prevention message to more residents."

Cllr George Westwater, cabinet member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: "I’m pleased that our partners at Northumbria Police are using the Plus Bus to pass on important messages about bogus callers."

For more information about the Plus Bus, contact North Shields Library on (0191) 643 5270 or visit

Ringtons customer with crime prevention leaflet

Tea and crime prevention

Well-known North East tea company Ringtons, joined forces with Northumbria Police to serve up tea and crime prevention advice to homes across the region.

Ringtons helped the doorstep crime prevention initiative by handing out crime prevention leaflets to their customers with a friendly reminder from sales staff for older residents about how to keep themselves safe.

Chief Inspector Bob Ryan from Northumbria Police said: "We're very pleased Ringtons is supporting our doorstep crime prevention campaign by helping us to personally deliver this safety message.

"They are a familiar sight in the region as they visit their customers on a regular basis and have built up a good relationship in some cases over many years.  So we're sure people will be pleased to get some advice and reassurance along with their tea."

Lisa Thornton, Marketing Manager at Ringtons said: "We’re delighted to be supporting Northumbria Police; we have great relationships with our customers, a large proportion who are elderly, so we’re well placed to get these messages out there."

Pictured are: Chief Inspector Bob Ryan, customer Mrs Jean Spencer and Simon New from Ringtons.