Bogus caller alert after council uniforms stolen

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THE theft of council uniforms from a city recycling centre has sparked a warning from police that bogus callers may use them to trick their way into residents’ homes.

Police fear the uniforms, which are embossed with the City of Edinburgh Council logo, may have been stolen to give fraudsters added legitimacy during scams.

The warning follows a number of recent incidents where bogus callers pretended to be working for local authorities across the Lothians to gain access to victims’ homes.

The uniforms were taken from a storeroom at the Seafield Road Recycling Centre sometime between 4.30am and 5.30am on Sunday. The stolen items included black fleece jackets, black trousers, workmen’s boots and high-visibility vests.

Council chiefs today urged residents to ask for ID from anyone wearing local authority uniforms calling at their door.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “The council requires all our staff to wear proper identification and people must check this before revealing sensitive information or allowing anyone into their home.

“We will work closely with the police to help retrieve the stolen uniforms and would ask the public to remain especially vigilant whilst the investigation is ongoing.”

Police chiefs also warned members of the public to be wary about checking the identity of doorstep callers before letting them inside their homes.

A police spokeswoman said: “We would encourage everyone to take the time to call the council and check the identity of any unexpected workman at the door – genuine workers will be happy for you to do this, whereas in many cases this will be enough to deter criminals.”

Bogus callers have often pretended to be working for the council to trick their way inside homes to carry out thefts.

On Tuesday, a 35-year-old man appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after a fraudster talked his way into a home in Newbattle Road, Newtongrange, by pretending to be clearing leaves for Midlothian Council.

In October, an elderly couple reported a purse containing a three-figure sum had been stolen from their property in Lochbridge Road in North Berwick. The victims had allowed a man claiming to be from East Lothian Council into their home to check water pressure.

Only days later, a bogus workman stole a four-figure sum from a 75-year-old woman after tricking his way into her Musselburgh home.

The bogus caller arrived at the pensioner’s home in Pinkie Road claiming to be carrying out work on behalf of the local council.

But while he kept the woman occupied an accomplice sneaked in to steal the cash from her bedroom.