‘Scammers gaining access to empty Newham homes by calling locksmiths to open door’
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 September 2019
A locksmith is warning property owners about a scam being used to gain illegal access to vacant homes in the borough.
Mohammed Rashid of Newham-based R&M Locksmith says he has received numerous calls from people pretending to be the owner of a property claiming that they, or someone else, have locked their keys inside.
Usually, a man will call on a mobile number saying his wife is stuck outside the house without her key, and when Mr Rashid arrives, there is a woman waiting but the property appears vacant.
Mr Rashid said he asks for ID upon arrival and calls the police if he suspects something is not quite right.
"Sometimes when I arrive I get a gut feeling that it's going to happen again," he said.
A woman was arrested in Stratford on Tuesday, September 17, after Mr Rashid contacted police during a suspicious call-out and used stalling tactics until they arrived.
"It looked a bit suspicious to me, from the way she talked and her behaviour, so I asked if she had identification," he said.
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"She said she's only just moved in, a couple of weeks ago - nine times out of 10 people have identification on the inside anyway - so then I asked if she had the tenancy agreement and she said she left it at the office."
On another occasion, a woman waiting at the house ran away when Mr Rashid called police.
Mr Rashid says he and other locksmiths have received suspicious call-outs all over Newham and surrounding areas over the past two years.
"I don't know if it's all over London, but it seems to be predominately in east London," he said.
"I've seen enough and heard enough, you go through these scenarios and it's getting too much."
A former property manager, Mr Rashid wants owners of empty homes to know this is happening so they can be vigilant about their properties.
"This is what landlords make a mistake with: if they're selling a property and it's completely empty, it should have an alarm system," he said.
"It's just the way landlords are, they don't want to spend the money to do things property - like put an alarm in."
He added many also didn't bother to change the locks upon buying a property or after evictions.
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