Police have welcomed the sentencing of a 27-year-old man convicted of a number of fraud-related offences committed the Newcastle area of Co. Down earlier this year.
Dean James Winder pleaded guilty earlier this year to offences including engaging in a misleading commercial practice. He was sentenced at Downpatrick Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, 1 November to complete 200 hours’ community service, to pay compensation of £4,000 to his victim and pay fines totalling £800.
Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “Winder targeted the householder, a woman aged in her 80’s and her partner. He tried to charge almost £7,000 to tarmac their drive. Thanks to the good work between PSNI and Trading Standards Service, Winder was subsequently arrested, charged and sentenced on Thursday, 1 November.
“This was a callous and calculated act by Winder who deliberately set out to scam this couple our of their hard earned money. What Winder did was disgusting and I hope the court’s judgement will bring some level of comfort and reassurance to the couple targeted by Winder. I would also like to praise the taxi driver who raised the alarm and thank our colleagues in Trading Standards Service.
“I want to appeal again to friends and family of older, or vulnerable people to talk to them about the issue of ‘cold callers’ and make sure they know what to do when salespeople come to their door.
“We want to keep everyone safe in our community and I would appeal to householders to be aware of cold callers coming to your door.
“Remember, it’s your home and it’s okay not to open the door if you have any concerns. You can speak to the person through the door or window, without actually opening the door to them.
“Not all cold callers are rogue traders, but some are and if you feel that something isn’t quite right, it usually isn’t.
“Unofficial traders can overcharge unsuspecting, and often older householders for poor quality work, or work that is never completed at all.
“Others might try to sell shoddy or over-priced goods, or attempt to trick their way into your house to commit a burglary. Most callers at your door will be genuine, but someone could be trying to gain access to look around your property or charge you too much for bad or non-existent work.
“Report any activity that raises your suspicions to police immediately. This is a good way to alert us so we can investigate – and will help deter criminals and reduce crime in your area. Call us on the non-emergency number 101.
“You might have seen an unusual vehicle parked or travelling on a road in your area, or strangers calling at houses. Remember that these could well be criminals checking out what’s on offer, and the level of security at people’s homes. Take a note of the vehicle registration number and a description of any vehicles that cause you any concern, and pass that information onto police by phoning 101.
“If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 101.
“Please find below some straightforward suggestions for keeping you, your property and your possessions safe”.
1. Close and lock all doors and windows even if you are only going out for a few minutes.
2. Leave a light on if it will be dark before you get home. Consider security lights. To a burglar, a dark house is an empty house.
3. Keep your valuables out of sight.
4. Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away from home.
5. Don’t leave car keys near your door, letterbox or windows.
6. Always check who is at the door. Not sure? Don’t open the door.
7. Set your alarm when going out. If you do not have an alarm, consider installing one.
8. Ask a neighbour or a friend to check your property and to remove post from the porch/hallway.
9. Inform police if your house is to be vacant for any length of time.
10. Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked and secure ladders.”