Northumbria Police has urged the public to be aware of “bogus builders” posing as legitimate contractors in the aftermath of Storm Eunice and Storm Dudley.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said that as local areas dealt with broken roof tiles, smashed windows and damage from falling trees, cowboy contractors were “lurking in the shadows”.
These builders, the spokesperson said, targeted vulnerable and unsuspecting members of the public and scammed them under the guise of carrying out repair work.
The North of England was hit particularly hard by last week’s storms, with the Tyne and Wear Metro affected by damage and thousands of homes in Wigan and Durham suffering from weather-related power cuts.
Considering the damage to the region, the Northumbria Police said that unverified builders and construction trades workers were approaching the public with inflated quotes for repairs that were not always needed.
On some occasions, these “doorstep traders” were reportedly also stealing other items from the home and soliciting payments for repair work that was incomplete or not done to standard.
Northumbria Police Complex Fraud Investigation team’s detective sergeant Phil Thoburn urged the public to carry out a verification of the business.
“Where possible we urge the public to use a recognised tradesperson and conduct background checks on their business and previous reviews,” Thoburn said.
He added that the public should not feel rushed into contracting for repair work and should take time.
“Beware of strangers canvassing for work at your door. Remember you are well within your rights to ask for identification, take your time, and don’t be rushed into agreeing to any work, or paying for any services. Discuss quotes with family and friends before you agree a price.”
Any member of the public who was contacted by a fraud builder was asked to report it to the police.
Earlier this year, The Northeast Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC), a non-profit organisation warned contractors about fake invoices and an increasing sophistication amongst construction fraudsters.