Suspected rogue trader strikes

A suspected rogue trader has struck in Pelsall, targeting an elderly couple, Walsall Police has revealed.

The man posing as a gardener approached the couple, both in their 80s, at their home in Wolverhampton Road yesterday morning (July 3), claiming that neighbours had complained about a bees’ nest in their garden.

The couple immediately became suspicious when he quoted a price of £700 to deal with the imaginary problem and reported him to the police when he was told to leave.

The pair reported the man driving off in a red box van  and minutes later officers found a vehicle matching the description parked in Walsall Road, Great Wyrley, and after a brief foot-chase arrested a 26-year-old on suspicion of attempted burglary.

He remains in police custody where he is being questioned about yesterday’s visit and other reported rogue trader type incidents involving people offering gardening services in the Walsall area.

Detective Sergeant Steve Walters, from Bloxwich CID, said: “You should always be suspicious about people arriving at your house unannounced offering their services. This couple did exactly the right thing, told him to leave and contacted police.

“They later searched through their garden and checked with neighbours but there was no sign of a bees nest. Rogue traders can be very convincing and innovative in the ruses they use to try and get people to part with their money this time it was a bees’ nest, but others have included rat catching, burst water pipes, questionnaires and meter readers.

“This is a significant arrest and we will be exploring whether the suspect could be behind other reports of similarly suspicious behaviour across the area.

“If anyone believes they’ve been targeted by a rogue trader or bogus official they should contact their local police team on the 101 number.”

Police were on the scene within minutes of yesterday’s 9am call from the couple, whilst the force helicopter joined the search for the suspect’s vehicle.

Enquiries continue to trace a second suspect who was seen running away from the parked van.

Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident or who saw the movements of the red box van yesterday morning to call Bloxwich CID on 101. Alternatively people can leave information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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