‘Bogus callers’ take centre stage at event for Cookstown pensioners

Casual workmen show how easy it is to conn a house holder into  unnecessary repair work during a Bogus Caller Event in the Burnavon

Casual workmen show how easy it is to conn a house holder into unnecessary repair work during a Bogus Caller Event in the Burnavon

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In an effort to stop ‘bogus callers’ in their tracks, Agewell and Cookstown PCSP joined forces to host an event aimed at teaching Mid Ulster pensioners the tactics used by those who would steal from them - given the chance.

And the message, delivered yesterday via three short plays at Burnavon Arts Centre, definitely got through according to some at the event.

Shauna Keogh, Agewell manager, Seamus Doone, Neighbour Policing team, Jayne Smyth, Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Ricky Black and cllr. Ciaran McElhone, chairman of the Cookstown PCSP at the Cookstown Bogus Caller Event

Shauna Keogh, Agewell manager, Seamus Doone, Neighbour Policing team, Jayne Smyth, Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Ricky Black and cllr. Ciaran McElhone, chairman of the Cookstown PCSP at the Cookstown Bogus Caller Event

“It was very informative,” said Florence McCulloch. “The way they did the role-play was really good.”

While Adelaide Glendenning said it really made her aware of what can happen.

“You really don’t stop to think that it’s as easy done as that,” she said, “people can come to the door and get in easier than you think”.

Agewell Manager Shauna Kehoe said the event came about when “Cookstown PCSP manager Shauna McCloskey, approached us to do an older person’s event around bogus callers” - but instead of just preaching the message, she said they decided to take a more novel approach.

Supported by compere Derek Ewing, the Gillygooley players acted out three scenarios involving ‘bogus callers’.

The first saw an older lady pay “a bargain” £20 for 10 tea towels, while in the second the victim unwittingly handed over £300 to a couple of conmen who’d talked her into unnecessary house repairs.

In the third, an elderly lady had her purse stolen after leaving the front door open to help a ‘crying’ child find a ball. All situations that are not that far removed from reality according to Sgt Black from Neighbourhood Policing.

“Any of the examples you saw could happen... and it usually is older people [they target] as they are more trusting,” he explained.

When asked if this sort of thing happens in Cookstown he added: “It has - the last one was in September in Cookstown, in the town centre.

“Most of the ones I would know of in Cookstown tend to be [pretending to work for] one of the utility companies - the likes of the water board [or] electricity.”