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Site theft sparks off conman alert

Written on September 17, 2011

Homeowners should be wary of a conman who tried to steal a lorry and made off with items of uniform belonging to a construction company.

The man, described as having a strong Irish accent, sneaked on to a building site in The Fairway, Leatherhead, run by construction firm Bonds before being challenged by an apprentice plumber.When questioned, the man became defensive and claimed to be an electrician on site to collect a lorry.

Foreman Martin Fisher, 51, was called but the intruder fled before he arrived, taking a Bonds hard-hat and possibly a high-visibility jacket with him.Mr Fisher said: “If it wasn’t for the young plumber, he could have had anything.”

Mr Fisher thinks the man was probably an opportunist scouting the site, and reported the incident to police immediately, including the registration number of the man’s dark-coloured Volvo estate.He added: “One reason why we called the police straight away is because we’ve got neighbours here who are pretty elderly.”We didn’t know if he was going to start going round knocking on doors using the hat he stole (to look like a genuine Bonds employee).”

The firm is concerned that, as people in the area are familiar with the uniform, the conman might try to use it to secure contracts or perform distraction burglaries, a worry shared by police.Detective Constable Kerry Whindle said: “Our fear with this type of theft is that unscrupulous conmen might use the stolen items to add credibility to artifice offences.

“It is important the community, including residents and anyone legitimately in the construction trade, is aware of these kinds of offences so we can prevent anyone being ripped off by a bogus builder.”I appeal for people to please look out for neighbours and relatives, especially those who are vulnerable, and remind them of the dangers that bogus callers can pose.”

Earlier this year police cautioned teenagers who were caught on the building site, where work started last December.Contracts manager Sauro Gabelli, 49, said: “In the past we used to leave our tools lying around the building for the next day, but there’s no way we’d do that now.”