POLICE in Huddersfield today welcomed a new campaign to protect the elderly.
The Help the Aged charity has launched a campaign about how to protect elderly people from bogus officials.
It follows an NOP survey, released as part of the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership Senior Safety Campaign, which reveals that in two-thirds of bogus official cases in the North- East the thieves managed to steal something.
The campaign also aims to encourage older people to report incidents to the police.
And it is calling on the Government to provide more resources to tackle this crime and improve co-ordination between police forces to track bogus callers.
Pc Dave McSweeney, of Huddersfield police, urged victims to make a note of any details which could help identify the criminals.
"If you suspect they are bogus, have a look outside to see if they drive off in a car, and make a note of its number. They are often travelling criminals," he said.
He also urged people to report suspicious individuals - even if nothing was stolen - as the information could be used by police to try to prevent further offences.
The survey follows the first-ever independent national survey of older people's experiences of bogus caller crime.
The Help the Aged survey found that nearly 80% of people approached by bogus callers did not tell the police and 42% felt the event was too trivial to report. Also, 21% of older people did not keep their doors locked.
"Previous research has shown bogus callers to be part of a highly organised, professional criminal fraternity," said a spokesman for the charity.
"They pose as utility workers, tradespeople and even police to get into older people's homes.
"This type of crime is not petty and can result in perpetrators netting hundreds of thousands of pounds from their victims."
* Yorkshire Water is calling on its customers to help beat bogus callers.
Nationally, there are about 12,000 distraction burglaries every year.
Such criminals often pose as water, gas or electricity workers.
Yorkshire Water says people should be extra- vigilant when such companies are working in their area.