Gas experts from Northern Gas Networks and their operating partners United Utilities are urging Hartlepool householders to be on their guard after a series of reports of bogus callers trying to gain entry into the homes of vulnerable and elderly residents.
The advice comes after a spate of attempted distraction burglaries in the Owton Manor Estate area of the town where new gas mains are being laid. Thieves have tried to con their way into homes to steal cash and valuables. The thieves responsible claim to be working for a gas utility and ask to enter the house to investigate a gas escape or discuss the current gas main improvements taking place.
Jacqueline Gibson, a Customer Liaison Officer with the United Utilities customer team has responsibility for working with the public in Hartlepool. She stressed the importance of ensuring that householders ask for and check ID closely before allowing anybody into their homes. “Just because someone says they are from a gas company and are wearing what looks like a uniform doesn’t mean that they are who they say they are,” she said. “Always check their identity card and if you are still in any doubt do not let them into your home no matter how convincing they are.”
Northern Gas Networks pipes gas to over 2.5 million homes and businesses and has around 37,000 km of gas pipe to maintain in its area which stretches from the River Humber to the Scottish Borders and across to Cumbria. Even with so many customers and local pipe networks, it is still very rare for a gas engineer to call without an appointment.
Chris Gorman, Director of Northern Gas Networks urged householders to be extra vigilant during the works being carried out in Owton Manor and surrounding streets. “Please be especially careful to properly check the identification of callers, particularly if there are road works taking place nearby. It is very unusual for us to call unannounced, so please be on your guard. Our message is quite simply check the callers are who they say they are – with us and not by calling any number they give you – and if in doubt keep them out,” said Mr Gorman.
Tips On Preventing Bogus Caller Crime
Ensure that all doors are locked at all times even when at home; If you have one, always put the chain on before you open the door.
If you are worried telephone
0191 5116918 United Utilities, to check,
0800 521660 Enterprise
0800 121 4444 Balfour Beatty
01977 688160 Morgan Est
Photo shows Customer Liaison Officer for the Hartlepool area, Jacqueline Gibson