Rogue traders targeted in day of action
Operation Rogue Trader focused on reassuring the community, reducing crime and taking action against unscrupulous traders in what agencies have hailed a “hugely successful” day of events.
The exercise, which started at the crack of dawn and was led by Cardiff Trading Standards and South Wales Police, included high visibility patrols and targeted stop-check searches of people and vehicles believed to be involved in door-stop selling and rogue trader activity.
Shoppers visiting the Leckwith Retail Park were also provided with guidance and advice on crime prevention and cold calling by the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and Council officials.
As a result of the operation the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) interviewed eight people and six are under caution pending further enquiries.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) booked 17 vehicles for not having vehicle excise licenses.
Trading Standards found three overloaded vehicles and imposed immediate bans on each preventing them from returning to the highway until their loads had been sufficiently reduced. The drivers were also reported for prosecution. Additionally, five trading companies were questioned and served notices for not correctly complying with regulations protecting customers’ cancellation rights.
HM Revenue and Customs stop checked 22 vehicles and found one vehicle using red diesel. This was seized by officers and later returned for payment of purchase.
While the Environment Agency stop checked 15 vehicles and two were reported for waste carrier licence offences; waste management officers from Cardiff Council stopped 11 vehicles and served notices for a variety of infringements relating to the loads they were transporting.
Several vehicles were reported for minor road traffic offences and the Vehicle Operating Standards Agency (VOSA) implemented eight prohibitions for vehicles found to have defects ranging from dangerous tyres to faulty suspension and steering.
Owing to the severity of the defects, three of the vehicles were immediately banned from returning to the highway until the identified problems are addressed. Whereas the drivers of the other five vehicles received formal notices meaning that they could continue on their journeys under the strict instruction that the problems identified are addressed within the next ten days.
The exercise also enabled agencies to gather a large amount of intelligence, which will assist with future operations.
Dave Holland, Head of Regulatory and Supporting Services at Cardiff Council, said: “We are determined to actively tackle the issue of rogue trading in Cardiff and operations like this help us to weed-out the minority of unscrupulous traders who use our city for nefarious reasons.
“Rogue traders have no conscience or regard for others. They are only interested in making a profit which is usually at the expense of their unsuspecting victims who often purchase their services or goods with the best of intentions. And the consequences of buying rogue goods can be devastating – whether financially, emotionally, physically or a mixture of each.
“We want members of the public to remain confident that any criminal activity will not be tolerated and send a clear message to those perpetrating the law that operations like this one are carried out regularly across Cardiff.”
Community Safety Sergeant, James O’Donnell, from South Wales Police added: “The aims of this operation were to target and disrupt rogue traders and to gather intelligence on individuals suspected of being involved in this type of criminality.
“Rogue traders use unscrupulous tactics and target residents, particularly the elderly or vulnerable, and deliberately overcharge for unsatisfactory services. They are often linked to distraction burglaries.
“Distraction burglars use a variety of tactics to deceive the victim to get into their home to steal valuables. They often claim to be from the water board, the electricity company, local council or other organisations and they will try to pressurise or confuse the person who answers the door.
“We also want to take this opportunity to raise public awareness of doorstep crime and provide reassurance that South Wales Police is dedicated to tackling these cruel offences.”