Police are urging communities to be aware of doorstep crime and scams following a number of reports of incidents across the North east area.
Doorstep crime can affect some of the most vulnerable members of local communities, with perpetrators mainly targeting victims because of a perceived vulnerability, such as age, gender or disability.
Officers want to highlight that there are various types of doorstep crime including bogus callers who try to get into a person's home or obtain personal details by pretending to be someone they are not like council staff or charity collectors and rogue traders who claim to be offering services but charge overinflated prices for little or no work.
People can also be targeted over the internet or via the telephone.
Chief Inspector Elaine Logue said: "This type of crime sadly is typically aimed at vulnerable members of the community such as the elderly and is completely callous and unacceptable.
"We have been working closely with our partner agencies and we are committed to reducing the number of incidents of doorstep crime and keeping vulnerable people safe.
"There are a number of simple steps people can take to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime and I have included this advice in this message.
"I would also urge people to look after their family members, friends and more vulnerable members of our communities. This might mean taking a minute to go across to their house to check that all is well if you see a workman or official-looking individual on their doorstep, if you are comfortable doing so and without putting yourself in any difficulty. If you have any concerns at all please call police on 101.
"It is very important to pass on advice to friends, neighbours or family members who may be more likely to be targeted and provide them with the information and confidence to say no.
"Increasingly, criminals do not have to be present in person and will make contact via the telephone or online, often suggesting that they are from a financial organisation known to the recipient and that there is some immediate action that has to be taken to safeguard savings. Of course, the supposed remedial action sees the account holder unwittingly move monies to the criminal's account."
Information and advice on all aspects of keeping safe can be found on the Police Scotland website www.scotland.police.uk or by calling 101.
Key advice for the public:
Keep your front and back doors locked at all times and be on guard if someone turns up unexpectedly.
Use the door viewer or nearby window when answering the door and use (or fit) a door chain or bar.
Only let callers in if they have an appointment and you have confirmed they are genuine.
Always ask for identification badges of anyone you answer the door to, but don’t rely on them. Identity cards can be faked – phone the company to verify their identity.
Some companies offer a password system. Ask your utility providers if this can be used and if you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it
Never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home even if they are asking for help – they may not be genuine. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you.
Never agree to pay for goods or give money to strangers who arrive at your door.
Don’t keep large amounts of money in your home.
Don’t feel pressurised into agreeing to immediate work or buying a product or service.
Don’t agree to buy from the first person who calls.
Don’t pay cash up front or offer to go and get money.
Shop around and get a few quotes if you decide you need work done and ask for recommendations from friends and family.
Ask what your cancellation rights are.
If you are cold called or contacted via email don't be rushed into following instructions.
Hang up the phone and contact the organisation yourself.
Further information and advice on all aspects of keeping safe can be found on the Police Scotland website www.scotland.police.uk or by calling 101. If you feel you or a vulnerable member of your family would benefit from more specialist advice, a Crime Prevention survey can be arranged by making contact with your Community Policing Team.