The police are warning that the so-called ’Nottingham Knockers’ have been knocking on doors around Ross-on-Wye.
One case was reported in Llangrove on Friday, December 14th. The reports were of doorstep callers offering small household products for sale. These callers may claim to be ex-convicts attempting to mend their ways, however they are not part of any recognised rehabilitation scheme.
The police are asking residents to warn your neighbours, particularly elderly or vulnerable neighbours, not to open the door to strangers or buy or sell on the doorstep.
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.
Members of the police have found that usually the doorstep knockers 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. 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 in prisons and pubs. 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 tree workers, roofers, dodgy builders etc., and can be shared amongst the travelling community. Once on a list, your address could be sold on and on. Hence the repeat nature of these persistent callers.