A woman has been left ‘petrified’ after her home, and those of her neighbours, were marked with chalk in a method often associated with burglars, especially dog thieves.
Some believe the marks, left on several homes in Desborough, Northamptonshire, may be linked to fake energy salesmen they think have been in the area.
One local, Gemma Smallbones, said a man claiming to be a salesman from energy company Utilita, came to her house at around 3:10pm on Wednesday, April 21 and she later discovered the markings.
Ms Smallbones said: ‘He was telling me that I was paying too much electric on my pay-as-you-go meter.
A woman in Northamptonshire has been left ‘petrified’ after her home, and those of her neighbours, were marked with chalk (pictured) in a method often associated with burglars, especially dog thieves
Some believe the marks (including the one pictured) – left on several homes in Desborough – may be linked to fake energy salesmen they think have been in the area
‘I told him I don’t have pay-as-you-go and I pay monthly. Then he seemed to be in a rush to go.
‘He was acting strangely, stood really close to the pane of glass in my front door like he was looking through it. He didn’t step back when I opened the door.
‘He made me feel uncomfortable so I just wanted to get rid of him.
‘When he had gone, I checked outside and found the chalk marking and this made me feel petrified for my family and my dogs.
‘Obviously we had been targeted for something but we don’t know what.’
Ms Smallbones isn’t the only person in Desborough who claims they have had visits from such men, or had their homes marked with chalk.
One local, Gemma Smallbones, said a man claiming to be a salesman from energy company Utilita, came to her house at around 3:10pm on Wednesday, April 21 and she later discovered the markings
Northamptonshire Police have not received reports of anyone pretending to work for Utilita, but have urged locals to report anything suspicious. (File image of houses in Desborough)
‘There are lots of other people who had the same person come to their house in the area but only three of us had markings that I know of,’ she continued.
‘One of them said her neighbour had CCTV of two men and it wasn’t the man that came to my address. But they could be working in gangs.’
Another resident, Kristy Clayforth-Lee, also noticed the white markings on her door and fence.
‘I have no idea when the markings were put up, but it was yesterday at 2:30pm that I saw a dodgy bloke hanging around the back of the houses,’ said Ms Clayforth-Lee.
Both women also saw men in black with lanyards acting suspiciously round the back of Ms Clayforth-Lee’s house.
‘I saw a man acting suspiciously wearing black trousers and a black sweatshirt wearing a lanyard and holding something.
‘He had no business being at the rear of the properties. If he was genuine, he would be knocking on the front door,’ said Ms Clayforth-Lee.
A spokesperson from Utilita said: ‘We are not aware of anyone pretending to be Utilita salesmen in that area. We did, however, receive reports of someone saying they were from Utility Point’
She added: ‘Also, he avoided looking at me and turned to the side when I tried to get a good look at him at the end of the drive, but I did take note that he wasn’t a young man.
‘That was at 7am this morning, I found one marking then another later on when I got back from the school run.’
Another local, Sarah Sharpe, also saw the man who claimed to be from Utilita.
‘He says he’s from Utilita,’ she said. ‘He was very persistent and would not leave when I told him I had to take my son to nursery. He then came back twice – even though I said I wasn’t interested.’
Although nobody has witnessed anyone drawing the markings on their houses and fences, locals believe the fake Utilita men and the markings could be linked.
Northamptonshire Police have confirmed they received reports yesterday just after 9pm from a resident on Orchard Close, where a brick had been ‘coloured in with chalk’.
They have not, however, received reports of anyone pretending to work for Utilita, but have urged locals to report anything suspicious.
‘We gave crime prevention advice and asked the caller to contact us again if they see the same people in the area,’ a Northamptonshire Police spokesperson said.
‘We would advise the same to anyone who notices suspicious activity in their area and to ensure that their houses are left safe and secure at all times.’
A spokesperson from Utilita said: ‘We are not aware of anyone pretending to be Utilita salesmen in that area. We did, however, receive reports of someone saying they were from Utility Point.
‘What we would say is that customers should remain vigilant. There are rogue traders who pretend to be energy salesmen. Sadly it happens a lot in this industry.
‘All Utilita salesmen and engineers have identification cards so if they don’t have that, you know they’re not legitimate.
‘If you are suspicious of someone who comes to your door, don’t give them any personal information, just say no thank you, close the door, and report them.’