At the end of April, four of our staff were real life superheroes helping to protect the local residents of Greatham. Mick MacDermott (Community Pastimes Manager), Rob Thompson (Warden), Shaun Maw (Community Pastimes Support Worker), and Joanne Blackwood (Hartlepool Day Services Manager) worked together to safeguard almshouse residents from a group of professional conmen.
Earlier in the year, there had been reports of a group of men claiming to be ex-veterans and ex-prisoners targeting almshouse residents in Norton. These men had been going from door to door telling vulnerable older people that they were part of an organisation that sold cleaning products in a bid to help them rebuild their lives. Once in a resident’s home, the gang would intimidate the older person, and try to force them into buying their goods at exorbitant prices – one lady was coerced in to buying three cleaning clothes for the price of £80 having told the criminals that this was all the cash she had in her home.
At the end of April, reports came in to Rob from concerned residents in Greatham that they had been approached by these young men who were selling cleaning products to turn their lives around. The stories sounded very similar to the ones that came out of Norton earlier in the year, and it became clear that an organised criminal gang were purposefully targeting homes where they knew elderly people were liable to be living on their own. Our ‘Fantastic Four’ tracked down the gang in the village, and Mick, Rob and Shaun managed to apprehend one of the criminals and kept him locked in the laundry room until police arrived to arrest him. The rest of the gang were spotted making a quick getaway in a black BMW, but Joanne and Mick managed to take down the registration for police information.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Mick, Rob, Shaun and Joanne for going above and beyond the normal call of duty and going the extra mile to ensure that vulnerable almshouse residents were protected from financial exploitation.