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Police warn of 'abusive' cold caller

Photograph of police car for the Herts police crime alert

A few months ago I was in my front garden when a white van pulled up. A bloke --- he must have been in his mid 50s --- rolled down the window and shouted "do you live here?" Caught off guard I said yes. "Well you need your trees done, mate", he said. "I can do them now for you now if you want."

He then started to explain how the roots of the three trees in the front garden would damage the wall if I left them as they were. He said they had grown out of control, and would eventually damage the drive, too. It was quite a convincing pitch, and I might have been taken in had we not had the trees pruned by a reputable local tree surgeon a few months earlier.

So I turned down his offer. At that point he started on about how the shrubs needed cutting back, too.

Again, I told him I was happy with them as they were (most were planted the previous spring replacing old shrubs that had become woody and overgrown). He then came out with a mouthful of abuse and drove off, stopping at the next house where he spotted someone in the garden. I watched him until he moved off again a few minutes later having, it seems, had a similar response from my neighbour.

Now it appears he, or someone like him, is at it again. The local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Samantha Griffin says they have had two reports of a man in his late 50s with shoulder-length grey wavy hair, about five and a half foot tall, travelling in a small white van with a small black, tan, and white coloured dog, offering to do work and "getting verbally  abusive when he is refused".

Sounds like the same bloke to me.

Our PCSO asks anyone to call the police on the 101 non-emergency line if he turns up on your doorstep and bothers you. She also suggests we all keep an eye out for elderly neighbours who might be more susceptible to such unwanted attention.

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