Loved ones get the message across

FAMILY, friends and even pets are playing vital roles in a crime safety initiative with a friendly face to help safeguard vulnerable people from potential thieves calling at their homes. Police have joined forces with the North Devon Hospice to launch the

FAMILY, friends and even pets are playing vital roles in a crime safety initiative with a friendly face to help safeguard vulnerable people from potential thieves calling at their homes.

Police have joined forces with the North Devon Hospice to launch the "crime awareness fridge magnet" and make it available throughout North Devon and Torridge.

The magnet cards contain the message that householders should beware of unexpected callers at the door and to call 999 if they are concerned, with an accompanying leaflet giving additional advice.

They also include a place for people to insert a picture of loved ones such as children, grandchildren or favourite pets, which will attract them to look at the magnet and be reminded of the safety message.


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With funding through the Peace of Mind charity, magnets and leaflets are being made available free of charge in North Devon Hospice shops throughout the region as well its community nurses and from police stations.

The region's 11 hospice shops - Queen Street, Joy Street and St George's Road in Barnstaple; Chingswell Street, Bideford; Heanton Street, Braunton; two in The Square in Holsworthy; High Street, Ilfracombe; Queen Street, Lynton; East Street, South Molton; and Well Street, Torrington - are also soon to be joined by a "pound store" in Barnstaple Pannier Market.

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Head of hospice shops Bridget Knowles said the hospice and the police were working in collaboration as two carers in the community.

This was an opportunity to help safeguard against crime and also to highlight the work of the hospice shops, which are manned by some 250 volunteers who could relate to the target group.

Chief Inspector Kate Brookes of Barnstaple Police Station said the launch of this initiative would coincide with the region's change-over to digital television, which provided another opportunity for 'cold callers' to take advantage.

While emphasising that North Devon was still one of the safest places to live, there were still a few criminals who took advantage of elderly residents or vulnerable people by using distraction techniques or confidence tricks to gain entry to their homes, she said. They came in many forms, impersonating a plumber, gas man, electricity man or antique dealer, offering to repair the roof or driveway, or even a child claiming to have lost their dog.

Basic precautions advised by the police are:

Do not employ people calling door to door or calling unannounced.

If you require work at your property, contact a reputable firm, recommended by friends or family or through Yellow Pages.

If someone calls who you are not expecting, use the door chain or spy hole and ask to see their identification. If you are not happy, contact the company or organisation direct to confirm their story.

In any event, if you are not expecting the caller, ask them to come back when you have a friend or relative with you.

Genuine people will not be offended.

If you are not happy with any such situation, close the door and call 999.

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