ROGUE traders, distraction burglars, benefit cheats and other law-flouters were targeted by police as part of a multi-agency operation across Hartlepool.
Cleveland Police teamed up with HM Revenue and Customs, the Department of Work and Pensions and Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards department in a national day of action to turn up the heat on cowboy workmen, dodgy doorstep salesmen and those driving illegal vehicles.
Teams of police took part in raids on three homes in Hartlepool, where two men were arrested for conspiracy to money launder and one man for an alleged burglary.
The Mail captured one man being led from his home in the town centre just before 8am yesterday.
Officers also carried out 47 stop checks at Burn Road, in Hartlepool, and on the A19, near Wolviston, out of which five fixed penalty notices were handed out, three vehicles were seized and four people were reported for summons for various minor offences.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) carried out 31 checks at the two locations, with two of those people having their benefits withdrawn as a result, and five being involved in follow-up investigations into their benefits.
Customs chiefs issued a £530 fine to a motorist who had illegal fuel in his vehicle’s tank, while Trading Standards officers gave out 16 warning and advice letters.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Pickard, said: “Rogue traders and distraction burglars see the vulnerable and elderly as easy prey, with their actions causing long-term financial and emotional consequences that can ruin lives. Evidence suggests that these rogue traders travel across the country committing crime.
“Initiatives such as this help us to once again join with our partners to be one step ahead of the criminal fraternity and arm residents with the information that they need to protect themselves from becoming a victim.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: “Research shows that 40 per cent of distraction burglary victims nationally had a change in their quality of life as a result of the incident.
“Local residents have the right to say no to cold callers on their doorstep and I will continue to support police and partner agencies to raise awareness in communities. We must focus on safeguarding those most vulnerable across Cleveland and prioritising repeat victims of crime.”
The day of action forms part of a week-long national campaign codenamed Operation Rogue Trader, which is led by Operation Liberal - the national intelligence unit for distraction burglary and travelling criminals - and Trading Standards.
Those believed to be using distraction to burgle homes, rogue traders who deliberately overcharge or use intimidating behaviour in order to extort money, or cold callers who charge for unnecessary work and damage property are all being targeted throughout the country.
Leaflets have also been distributed across Hartlepool containing information to raise awareness of the tactics used by the deceitful criminals.
Anyone wanting to report activity, or those with information on rogue traders can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.