Tips For Handling Callers At Your Front Door
In these times it's not uncommon to receive not only unwanted phone calls but we must also contend with knocks on our front doors from strangers. We get hammered with people wanting us to make donations to this and that, wanting to sell us insurance, home improvements and the like, wanting us to take part in a survey, wanting us to vote for so and so, and for many other reasons.
When they knock on our front door they may say that their car has broken down and they need to phone someone for help. They may pretend to be a workman, saying that they need to check your electricity or water. They might even claim to be from the local government council and that they are carrying out a local survey. Whatever reason a caller gives, you need to be sure that they aren't just trying to get into your home to steal something.
There are around 12,000 incidents of "distraction burglary" each year, where callers get into homes and then steal cash or valuables while the occupier is distracted in some way. Sometimes they work in pairs, with one doing the talking while the other is stealing and they often target the elderly.
Be on your guard every time the doorbell rings, or there's a knock at your door. Always look out of your window to see who's there first and if you don't know who the person is, open the window slightly and talk to them that way, rather than opening your door. Alternatively, have a viewer fitted in your front door so that you can take a good look at who's there first. If your eyesight isn't so good, don't worry as you can now get wide-angle viewers to help you see better. With today's technology it is also possible to put in a small camera by the front door so that you can see who it is from a monitor in the house. You would be surprised if you knew how reasonably priced this technology has become today.
After you have seen who it is at the door always put the door chain or door bar on before opening the door and talk through the gap. You could even fit a small mirror to the wall next to the door so that you can easily see the person you are talking to. When the caller has left and you've closed the door, don't forget to unhook the chain so that any friend or relative you have given the key to can still get in.
Make sure your back door is locked if someone knocks at your front door. Sometimes thieves work together with one coming in the back way, while the other keeps you talking at the front.
Keeping the chain on the door, ask callers from the local council or any other organization to pass through some identification. If you need your glasses to check this don't think it's rude to close the door and go and get them. A genuine caller won't mind. If you're still not sure, ask the caller to leave and tell them to write and make an appointment so that someone else can be with you the next time they call. The basic rule is if you don't know the person at your door don't let them in.
As part of the Government's "Stop, Chain, Check" campaign, local government councils, social services and Age Concern centers have further information they can provide to older people. They can also help with door viewers, chains and mirrors, and in certain circumstances, may be able to supply a personal attack alarm that connects through to a control center.
Please don't hesitate putting these recommended procedures into effect. Make sure both young and old are aware of the possible consequences of answering the front door without taking these precautions. Do it today!