Creative crackdown on crime

23.09.2011

Cartoon crime fighters and children are to help a utility company and the police to protect the elderly and vulnerable from callous conmen.

Northumbrian Water has published a comic to educate children about bogus caller crime and ways in which people can protect their home and health.

Superheroes Karl, Kelly, Jermaine, Bethany and their dog, Splash, feature in the comic and make up Northumbrian Water’s ‘H2O Gang’. Each has their own super power which is activated when they drink tap water. The evil Dr Dry and his henchman, Drip, feature as the cunning thieves.

The comic, entitled ‘Stranger Danger’, tells the story of Jermaine’s Grandma being tricked by bogus callers, Dr Dry and Drip, who pretend to work for a water company. They are let into the granny’s house and steal a purse, jewellery and a television.

This is a real issue for Northumbrian Water and the police – more than 50% of bogus callers pretend to be from a water company.

‘Stanger Danger’ will be used to raise awareness of bogus caller crime among children aged between five and ten. Children can then pass on the advice contained within the comic to elderly relatives and friends.

Northumbrian Water’s Cara Hall said: “This is a fun and creative way to educate children and their relatives and friends about a very serious issue. Callous conmen prey on the elderly and vulnerable and devastate lives. Elderly people tend to be very trusting and it is important that we educate our customers, of all ages, about bogus caller crime so we can get information and advice to potential victims.”

The water company is an Operation Strongbow partner, a regional initiative run by the police to raise awareness of and prevent distraction burglary.

Operation Strongbow’s co-ordinator, Ingrid Wolfe, said: “Bogus callers often pose as staff from water companies in order to con the elderly out of their cash and possessions. This comic is a fantastic way to get families talking to each other about issues that affect them. The ‘stranger danger’ subject impacts on both young and old so hopefully the H2O Gang story can spark conversations between the generations.”

Top tips included in the ‘Stranger Danger’ comic:

• Avoid keeping large amounts of money in your home.

• Make sure your front and back doors are locked at all times.

• Look for the blue and green Northumbrian Water logo on vehicles, clothing and identity cards.

• Use your door chain while checking the caller’s identity.

• Examine the caller’s identity card thoroughly – all Northumbrian Water employees carry one.

MAKE SURE YOUR NEXT CALLER IS GENUINE – if the caller says they are from the water company, ring Northumbrian Water on 0845 717 1100 to check they are genuine. Genuine Northumbrian Water employees WILL NOT mind waiting.

Password protection - register a password by calling 0845 717 1100 or log onto www.nwl.co.uk. Anyone from Northumbrian Water needing to gain access to your property will know this word and use it on request.

This is the seventh comic Northumbrian Water has produced. Topics covered in other editions include the water cycle, water treatment, water for health and water efficiency.

The comics can be downloaded by logging onto www.nwl.co.uk/H20Gang.aspx#comics. Hard copies can also be requested by emailing education@nwl.co.uk.

For further information contact Cara Hall on 0191 301 6720.

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