Bedfordshire Police bogus COVID Marshalls warning Image: iStock

Attempted distraction burglary in Dunstable

Bedfordshire Police has issued a warning to residents following an attempted distraction burglary by offenders posing as COVID Marshalls in Dunstable.

On Monday (14 September 2020) at around 10.20am, two men attempted to enter a property on Ridgeway. They told the householder they had been instructed by police to enter people’s homes to check guidelines were being followed. Adding that if he refused, he would be fined.

The resident asked the men for their identification. When they couldn’t produce any, he refused to let them in, and kept the security chain on the door.

One of the offenders prevented the door being closed with his foot, and when the resident refused again to admit them, the men left the scene. Both offenders are described as black men, around 6’6”, both wearing black Puffa jackets.

Lesley Johnson, of Bedfordshire Police’s Crime Reduction team, said:

“This was distressing for the victim, and he felt quite intimidated by the men.

“Luckily he had the presence of mind to use the door security chain and ask them for identification.

“COVID Marshalls do not have the power to enforce social distancing or to issue fines, and government advice says they have no right of entry to your home.

“We would urge everyone to be on their guard and look out for vulnerable friends and relatives who could fall prey to such opportunist scammers.”

If you have any information please visit Bedfordshire Police’s online reporting centre, quoting ref 40/49992/20.

Alternatively, call independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Support your vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours

Bedfordshire Police is asking for your support in encouraging your vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours to take extra care when answering the door to people they do not know.

  • Where possible, only answer the door if you know a member of your family, a friend, a carer or a pre-arranged tradesperson is visiting
  • If you have an unexpected caller, use a door chain when answering the door, or speak to them through a window
  • Ensure any other doors to the property are locked before you answer the front door
  • If unsure of the visitor’s identity, always ask for their ID first and telephone the company they are purporting to be from. Use the telephone number listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider
  • Many service providers, when they are making the appointment with you, are happy to arrange for their representative to use a password of your choosing
  • Never agree to any work that the caller claims needs to be done in, or to, your home. It is okay to say NO and turn the person away
  • If you are able, report the incident to the police on 101 with as much detail as you can provide
  • Even if the person at your door gives you a convincing story as to why they need to enter your house, if you were not expecting them, turn them away immediately and report it to the police on 101