Police win battle against Norwich rogue traders

Police say they are winning the war against distraction burglars and rogue traders who target Norwich's elderly people.

Specialist police team Operation Radar was set up four years ago in a bid to tackle the then growing number of crimes where people were being duped out of money and possessions by cold callers and con men.

At the time, there had been 85 distraction burglaries across Norfolk. After Operation Radar's first full year, this figure was more than halved.

This year, there have been 30pc fewer distraction burglaries so far compared to this time last year.

The team, which is based in Dereham but covers all of Norfolk, has had 135 arrests in its three years in operation. These arrests are primarily for distraction burglaries, rogue trader fraud and theft of metal.


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Some high profile cases include the imprisonment of Neil Seagrave, dubbed East Anglia's worst ever distraction burglar, who preyed on more than 100 elderly women stealing tens of thousands of pounds in less than a year. He was jailed for 11 years at Norwich Crown Court at the end of last year.

Last month, distraction burglar Luke Wall, who tricked his way into the homes of vulnerable and elderly victims across Norfolk was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

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Detective sergeant Pete Jessop put Operation Radar's success down to raising awareness with members of the public.

He said: 'We've taken the onus off the elderly and made it much more about the community and people looking after one another and their neighbours.

'If you've got a neighbour you are concerned about then call the police or if you've got an elderly relative who lives on their own and they are keeping money in the house then think about how the family can help them keep their money safe.

'It's heartbreaking when you deal with somebody who has saved up �6,000 or �7,000 and it's taken and it ends up being the money they were saving for their funeral. We are trying to prevent it and we are definitely reducing the number of people who are victims.'

After Operation Radar was set up, the number of distraction burglaries fell from 85 in 2007 to 70 in 2008 and 39 in 2009. In 2010, there was a spike in the number of crimes, which took the figure back up to 56, but this was put down to prolific offenders being caught.

DS Jessop said: 'The percentage of distraction burglaries and rogue trader fraud in Norfolk is low because we have kept it low.

'We have acted quickly and locked people up.'

Anyone who thinks they, a neighbour or relative have been targeted by a distraction burglar or rogue trader should call officers at Operation Radar on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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