Police Stop 200 Motorists in Rogue Trader Operation

POLICE stopped more than 200 motorists and patrolled “hot spots” as part of a county-wide crackdown on “rogue traders” who prey on vulnerable people.

Operation Impede involved teams of officers working alongside officers from Trading Standards, the Environment Agency, local authorities and HM Revenue and Customs.

A total of nearly 60 police officers and staff, and 28 officers from partner agencies, took part in the operation yesterday (June 30), which was part of a national day of action.

The operation covered the whole force area with particular attention to hot-spot locations.

Intelligence indicates that conmen who carry out building maintenance and resurfacing work are also responsible for offences including burglary, deception, theft, criminal damage and harassment.

They often charge large amounts of money for substandard or minimal work and steal from victims if given the chance.

Police also believe the same bogus traders may be responsible for stealing construction machinery, while Trading Standards experts suspect they are flouting consumer protection legislation.

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Yesterday, officers carried out patrols in areas where so-called “cold callers” and rogue traders are known to operate.

All operational officers in the county were asked to provide intelligence for the operation and the force’s ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) unit was in operation.

More than 200 vehicles were stop checked, six vehicles were seized, and motorists were fined or reported for traffic offences. Two fines were given for not wearing a seat belt, two for speeding and eight offences relating to vehicle defects were identified.

More than 30 residential properties were also visited to offer victims crime prevention advice and check on work currently being carried out.

Detective Inspector Sharon Dence said: “It was a successful day of action and sent out a message to rogue traders that we will take action against them.

“This type of crime is particularly appalling because its victims are often those who are most vulnerable.

“Police and Trading Standards officers are tackling rogue trading and the associated crime as a priority and yesterday’s action was part of an ongoing campaign.

“It is a problem, not just in Cambridgeshire, but across the country and it is important residents contact us as soon as they have any suspicions.

“Our advice will always be not to use cold callers and to ask for a business card so you can consider what is being offered at your leisure.”

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and the Environment, Cllr Tony Orgee, said: “Days of action where the police, Trading Standards, DWP, HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration, district councils and the Environment Agency work together, are a great way of showing a united front for tackling rogue traders.

“Vulnerable members of the community need protecting from those traders who continue to take unfair advantage.”

Police officers dealt with traders suspected of committing crimes, Trading Standards officers handled issues surrounding trading standards or consumer protection and local authority officers made sure vehicles carrying waste were certified to do so.

Police also took the opportunity to check vehicles being used by traders to ensure they met regulations and to ensure tools and plant equipment being used were not stolen.

People over the age of 60, or those with a physical disability or learning difficulty, are encouraged to use Cambridgeshire County Council’s Registered Trader scheme. To find out more, call Age Concern Cambridgeshire on 01354 696677 or 01354 696650 or visit the county council’s website.