DEVON and Cornwall Police have issued a warning about 'doorstep gangs' after a recent wave of crimes.
The police posted a message on social media to urge people to be vigilant after a wave of crimes involving groups of men claiming to be selling cleaning products.
It is believed that the men may actually be scoping out homes in preparation for a burglary at a later date.
Police forces across the country have been issuing similar warnings.
Police have said that the scam often involves cleaning product salesmen claiming to be reformed convicts trying to make a new life for themselves, or even claiming to be deaf or dumb, trying to make extra cash to pay their carers.
The police statement posted online said: "The sellers go between houses appearing to offer a range of cleaning products, but may be checking how much cash may be in the house, whether the home is occupied or empty at certain times, how valuable the belongings are and how well protected the house is.
"A few days or weeks later, a different member of the gang returns to burgle the house using the intelligence gathered by the initial doorstep trader."
Forces across the country have issued warnings to vulnerable residents, especially the elderly, to be on their guard.
In some cases doorstep hawkers have forced their way inside a property after being told to go away.
Those who do pay up risk being added to a list of willing customers and are then targeted by other street sellers.
Police have asked anyone who feels they may have been targeted, please ring 101. In an emergency ring 999.
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