Gardaí arrived just in the nick of time to prevent a frail, elderly, man handing over thousands of euro for a small tarmacadam driveway job that should have cost a fraction of the quoted price.
Uniformed and armed patrols have been set up in west Waterford to track rogue traders and criminals posing as gardaí, council workers and businessmen.
A recent incident in the Dungarvan district has sparked the crackdown.
Gardaí confirmed a patrol arrived as an elderly resident was being asked to fork out €5,000 for a job estimated at €800.
Officers intervened and the “contractors” fled. Gardaí said the intended victim was “lucky”.
Superintendent Michael Leacy, said one of the patrols in the Dungarvan district became suspicious of the so-called contractors.
He indicated there may have been “a degree of intimidation” levelled against the householder by the tarmac contractors, who fled the scene when gardaí arrived.
Garda intelligence, he said, suggests certain individuals collect and share information on vulnerable targets.
“In some cases, people quoting for jobs today have, in the past, been involved in reconnaissance for burglars coming behind them.
“We would ask all community alert groups to ensure the message of always saying ‘no’ to bogus callers and rogue traders. Gardaí will also target such criminal elements through surveillance operations.”
Recently, three men claiming to be gardaí called to an elderly person living in Dungarvan town. Fortunately, an alert neighbour intervened and the men fled empty-handed.
Supt Leacy said it was vital the public kept an eye out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
“If something seems out of place, like a strange car, people should immediately take down the number and contact us,” he said.
He added if neighbours of likely vulnerable people were suspicious about contractors or others, they should also contact gardaí who would be able to check out if they were bona fide.
Supt Leacy said gardaí would do everything in their power to protect the vulnerable and the elderly.
“I cannot over-emphasise the need for good communications between An Garda Síochána and the community. We also need neighbours and relatives and members of the public to help people living alone or those vulnerable to crime.
“However, we must not allow fear to prevail but keep on our guard to ensure people can live safely in their own homes.”
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