Both Northamptonshire and Thames Valley Police forces have issued warnings to village residents that so-called “Nottingham knockers” are reported to be operating in this area.
These are young lads who go door to door, selling household products
Often these lads have some form of ID to proffer but this is bogus. They may also hand over a card saying they are deaf, dumb, or just out of prison and in the process of being reformed and working towards a better life. They carry a bag of household products supplied by the person who employs them. Traditionally, they came from Nottingham – hence the name. However, these days they are recruited from anywhere and everywhere.
How does the scam work?
Nottingham knockers are supplied with a full bag and charged a minimal sum for the contents. They can keep whatever they make above this amount. Usually they are deposited in an area from a van and given a list of streets to work. An hour or so later they are picked up and dropped off in another location. They often work from 09:00 to 21:00. They knock on doors offering cleaning and general household items they know to be rubbish and which the buyer also knows to be rubbish. That is part of the scam. Many people will purchase items from them out of sympathy or just to make them go away.
The price for whatever has been purchased usually comes to a note – usually £10. When the note is handed over, the lad examines its condition and how long it took the person to get it. If the note is crumpled, they accept it and move on. If it is crisp, flat and new, they are much more interested and may engage the householder in further conversation so as to obtain some details about them. As they leave, they will smell the note. If it is slightly musty, it’s an indication that there are more such notes in the property. Those addresses are noted. The addresses of elderly, vulnerable or gullible people are all noted.
Details of noted addresses are handed to the knockers’ employer and a small amount of cash handed over for each one. These addresses are then sold in prisons and pubs. If there is a later break-in, the employer expects a further cut of the proceeds. Such lists are purchased by all sorts of people – tarmaccers, cowboy tree workers, roofers, dodgy builders, etc. Once on a list, an address can be sold on and on. In almost every case of a stop check, knockers have a long strings of convictions for burglary. They use the skills learnt during their criminal activity to identify possible targets.
1. Ask to see the Pedlar’s Certificate of any salespeople who come to your door. Pedlar’s Certificates are only issued to individuals under very strict conditions.
2. Call 101 if you see Nottingham knockers in your area. If they knock on your door, put your door chain on, say “no thank you” and then call 101.