‘How I stopped local doorstep scammers in Market Harborough’

Photo posed by models
Photo posed by models

A retired teacher has told the Mail how she confronted a doorstep con man in Market Harborough as he tried to get money from a vulnerable neighbour.

The con man called her an “interfering old b***h” as he retreated back to his van.

But the woman, who asked not to be named, said people like her should not be frightened to be a “nosy neighbour” if it was going to help someone.

Her neighbour, a former academic who now has dementia, had already lost hundreds of pounds last year to a doorstep tradesman, who claimed for work he hadn’t done.

The woman told the Mail: “The police had told us last year to keep our eyes open, in case he was targeted again.

“So I just breezed over and was smiley and polite, but I wasn’t going to let my neighbour get conned again.”

Her action has been praised by Harborough MP Neil O’Brien, who has made loneliness and community one of his focuses.

He said: “The first thing is to be wary of people on the doorstep. Have a rule not to buy from doorstep sellers, and be wary of buying into any sob story. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to people.

“The second thing is to be the eyes and ears of your street. If you see someone vulnerable being picked on, call the police and get photographic evidence or note down a number plate.”

The former teacher who confronted a doorstep con man in Market Harborough said she would do the same again.

The woman said she acted after seeing a white van parked outside a vulnerable neighbour’s house.

The neighbour – a retired academic we’ll call Frank who has dementia – had already been conned once by doorstep scammers, the woman said.

“I saw a burly guy knocking on my neighbour’s door” she said. “I had a little panic about what to do.

“I didn’t want to be too nosy, so I got my trowel from my kitchen, went outside and pretended to do a bit of gardening. I saw this burly man was pointing at the front of the house, and heard him saying he could do Frank a good deal.”

Knowing she had to intervene, the former teacher said: “I just went breezily over with a big smile and told this trader ‘just to let you know Frank isn’t giving any work out at the moment without the say-so of his son and daughter.”

Undeterred, the trader, who had his boot inside Frank’s door, told her to mind her own business.

“I’m offering him a good deal” he said, calling the woman “interfering old b***h”.

The woman stood her ground. “The thing is,” she said, “the police have been round and asked the neighbours to keep an eye on Frank, because he has been targeted by some really awful people”.

“Are you threatening me?” asked the burly salesman, but at last he started to retreat down the drive towards his van, where a second man sat.

When the van had gone, the good neighbour phoned the police.

“The police were brilliant, but they said I should have phoned them first, and I was cross that I hadn’t even noted the van’s number plate” the woman admitted.