distraction their full attention
initiatives to prevent vulnerable older people from becoming
victims of burglary are being assessed by University researchers.
Wall and Stuart Lister are measuring the impact of a pilot
Home Office project targeting what are known as 'distraction'
Wall, of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, said:
"Normally burglars don't like to engage with their
victims, but there has been a worrying trend in recent
years of crimes exploiting the vulnerability of elderly
working in pairs, one burglar distracts the victim, by
pretending to do a job or give an estimate, while the
other looks around the house to steal money and valuables.
Also included under 'distraction burglary' are bogus property
repair men and fraudsters who deceive old people into
parting with their savings."
Leeds distraction burglary project involves agencies such
as Age Concern and Victim Support, community groups and
West Yorkshire police. Initiatives include fitting locks
and alarms in homes at risk, providing a database of bona
fide tradespeople and encouraging companies who make doorstep
calls to follow a strict security protocol. There is even
a play being performed on the subject by elderly amateur
dramatics group 'Heydays'.
were around 16,000 recorded distraction burglaries in
the UK last year, though it is thought that many more
remain unreported. The effect on victims' lives can be
devastating. "The people most at risk for distraction
burglary often don't use banks or have insurance,"
said Stuart Lister. "What is stolen can have a high
value £3-4,000 on average and victims
are unable to replace those savings or possessions."
researchers are evaluating the impact of the different
initiatives. The results to be published next year
will be used to inform government policy, and shape
a nationwide campaign to combat the crime.