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Thames Valley Police issue ‘Nottingham Knocker’ advice

Please warn your neighbours, particularly elderly or vulnerable neighbours, not to open the door to strangers to buy on the doorstep. Some doorstep callers may offer poor quality goods at inflated prices and if a caller is not genuine, they may be gathering information for future crime. Please keep in mind that if cold callers don’t get any sales in your area, they are less likely to return.
How they work

The sellers may say that they are on a “rehabilitation course” arranged by probation services or other organisations trying to find people work. This is not the case and often they are known criminals. Probation services do not run such schemes.

They may show a card which claims to be a “Pedlars Licence” or work permit. This is not valid and they are breaking the law if they are using anything like this.
They may also hand over a card saying they are deaf or dumb.

According to the police, the bag of household products is supplied by someone who employs them (originally a man from Nottingham – hence the name), but now they are recruited from anywhere. The lads are supplied with a full bag of household products (including the typical tea-towels!) and charged a minimal sum for the contents– it used to be £35. They can keep whatever they make, above this amount.

Usually they are deposited in an area from a transit van and given a list of streets to work. An hour or so later they are picked up and dropped off in another location. They often work from 9am to 9pm.

They will knock on a door, offering cleaning items which they know are cheap and of very poor quality; the householder also knows they are rubbish but that is part of the scam. Many people will purchase items and pay them something, just to get rid of them. There have been cases of elderly residents handing over large sums as these lads can be very persistent and confrontational.
The price for whatever has been purchased usually comes to a note – usually £10. The householder disappears to get this – this is when the scam begins, according to the police. When the note is handed over, the lad examines the condition and how long it took the person to get it. If it is crumpled, they accept it and move on. If it is crisp flat and new – they are much more interested and may engage the person in more conversation, to obtain details about them. As they leave they will smell the note. If it is slightly musty – this is an indication that there is more in the property. Those addresses are noted. The addresses of elderly/vulnerable/gullible people are all noted.

These are handed to the employer and there is a small amount of cash handed over for each one. These addresses are then sold on. If there is a later break-in, the employer expects a further cut of the proceeds. These lists are purchased by all sorts of people including – tarmacers, tree workers, roofers, dodgy builders etc., and can be shared quite easily. Once on a list, your address could be sold on and on. Hence the repeat nature of these persistent callers.

If they are in your area, please call the police immediately on 101 with a description of them & any associated vehicle they may be using.

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