POLICE are set to step up patrols in “hotspot” areas for bogus callers in the wake of a spate of incidents where elderly and vulnerable residents were targeted.
Officers have launched Operation Aristotle as a six-month blitz against con artists.
A 34-year-old man has already been charged in connection with 12 alleged offences in the north of the Capital. He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday.
As part of the ongoing operation, officers are set to visit community groups for the elderly and vulnerable to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the fraudsters.
The force is also working with the city council, NHS and groups that work with the elderly to identify potential victims and ensure they are aware of security precautions.
Earlier this month, elderly victims were driven to the bank by bogus callers who stole their money in a series of incidents in the city.
In one case, an 89-year-old man from Pilrig Street fell victim to a man who called at his door claiming he was due to carry out work on the roof before taking the pensioner to a bank in Leith Walk to withdraw a four-figure sum.
Other incidents have included several pretending to be from the water board.
Detective Chief Inspector Sara Buchanan, who is leading the initiative, said: “There has not been one of these operations against bogus callers for a while so this is about giving the elderly and vulnerable advice and help.
“There are different types of bogus callers, from travelling criminals who come from outside the area to people who live here. We are targeting all of them.”
Plans are also being drawn up to increase the number of No Cold Calling Zones across Edinburgh.
Police analysts are working to identify areas where bogus callers operate so patrols can be deployed in the coming months, while road checks will be set up to try and catch offenders.
DCI Buchanan added: “Bogus callers deliberately prey on vulnerable members of the community, using a variety of ruses in order to rob people who allow them into their homes in good faith.
“We want people in local communities to be vigilant, and to call police immediately if they notice any suspicious activity taking place.”
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, said: “Bogus caller crimes are extremely distressing, especially when the victims are elderly or vulnerable. It’s important that all the agencies work together to educate everyone to prevent these heartless acts.”