A DISABLED pensioner targeted by bogus callers has spoken out to warn others of the dangers of letting strangers into their home.
Elizabeth McInnes said she was “taken unawares” when two men claiming to be from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive knocked on her front door at lunchtime on Halloween.
The 64-year-old, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and arthritis, said her husband had just popped out to the shops when a man, thought to be aged in his late 30s approached her front door at Iveagh Walk.
He was accompanied by another man, said to be aged around 19, who carried a set of steps and stood at the gate to Mrs McInnes’ home. The mother-of-two said she was immediately suspicious when she saw that neither man had an identity badge on his uniform.
“They said they were calling to check for frozen pipes in the roofspace in the run-up to winter,” Mrs McInnes told the Leader. “I told them we’d never had a problem with the pipes in the house and I was already suspicious that they weren’t who they were trying to tell me they were.”
When she asked for identification the men said they had none and she told them “You’re not getting in here” before promptly closing the door and locking it.
Mrs McInnes said she felt frightened at the thought the two men were in the vicinity when she was in her home alone.
“I don’t know if they’d been watching me and knew my husband had gone out or what but I just felt afraid because I knew I was on my own,” she said. The men left the area and, after speaking with neighbours, Mrs McInnes said she realised her suspicions had been correct as they hadn’t called to anyone else’s home that day.
“I rang the police who gave me a number to call to check if they were genuine and it turns out the Housing Executive hadn’t sent anyone out that day to do work for them.”
Mrs McInnes, who said her husband and children were concerned for her safety following the incident, said she would advise anyone who is not totally sure strangers calling to their home are genuine to check.
“Since then I have made sure to have windows and doors locked if I am in the house alone,” she said. “I would advise anybody who is suspicious of someone calling to the house to check who they are and always ask to see ID.”
E District’s Crime Prevention Officers said, “This is exactly how we want the public to deal with callers to their homes. Take the time to check that their identity is genuine - if they are genuine they will not mind waiting.
“If anyone noticed these men in the area or would like advice on dealing with bogus callers they can contact us in Banbridge on 0845 600 8000 or the QuickCheck scheme on 0800 013 22 90.”