Bogus Callers / Distraction Burglary

Bogus callers

Who are Bogus Callers?

Bogus Callers, also known as distraction burglars, are criminals who adopt a number of guises: plumbers, high pressure sales people, builders, gardeners, people who offer to tarmac your drive.

What is a Bogus Caller incident?

Distraction burglary is a type of burglary where by the 'method of entry' is by trick rather than the typical forced or sneak entry. There is no legal definition of distraction burglary. A bogus caller incident is typically 'an incident where the caller gave false or misleading details to gain entry to premises or obtain work, and either by their manner, actions or persistence stole or otherwise deceived or confused the occupant into parting with cash or property'.

They are responsible for a distressing crime often aimed at the most vulnerable members of our community. The actions of these people can have serious consequences on the quality of life of many victims.

They will use every trick in the book to get inside your house and rummage through your possessions, taking anything of value they can find. You may think you have the best hiding place for your valuables, chances are they'll find them.

Bogus callers can appear to be very believable. They can take on many forms, dress as utility workers, tradespeople, or even police officers. They are particularly persuasive and articulate and can easily talk their way into people's homes. Once in they will steal money and valuables.

Our research shows that older people are their main targets

Beating the Bogus Caller

STOP! - Are you expecting anyone?
CHAIN! - Always use door chain
CHECK! - Double check caller identification

Always report bogus caller crime - Call Cleveland Police on 101

The type of things they will say to try and get into your home:

  • I'm here to check the pipes
  • I need to check the water/turn the water off (I'm laying pipes / water main has burst)
  • The water is unfit for drinking
  • I need to check for damp
  • There has been a gas explosion up the road
  • I've lost my football/kite/puppy/cat
  • Can I use your toilet?
  • Can I have a glass of water?
  • Can I borrow a pen/a piece of paper to write a note?
  • Can I see John/Jane? (or any other fictitious name)
  • I'm interested in buying antiques or books
  • You have won a prize in a raffle - can I measure up for the prizes/write down your details?
  • I'm from Age Concern - can I take down the number of your pension book?


  • Try not to keep lots of cash in the house and keep things like your pension book, savings book, cheque book and cards well hidden.
  • Most utilities and service staff will make an appointment prior to coming to your house and should not turn up unannounced.
  • If someone unexpected who you do not know comes to your house do not let them in until you are absolutely sure they are genuine.
  • If you have any doubts - Keep them Out!