Fraud investigation started after man conned Addiscombe shop owner over window repair
A WINDOW repair man tricked the victim of a break-in into paying him for work done by a police contractor.
A fraud investigation has begun after Positively Marvellous Temptations (PMT) in Lower Addiscombe Road was broken into shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
A man forced his way in by breaking a pane of glass in a door, which was later boarded up by County Boarding Services (CBS), a contractor employed by the Met.
The following morning, a man turned up at the cafe, while forensics officers were still inside, and identified himself to owner Amanda Dunstan as being from the company which had secured the cafe.
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First he asked for £190 plus VAT for boarding up the door, which Mrs Dunstan paid him in cash.
He then offered to repair the damage because he happened to have the right size pane of glass in his van. When Mrs Dunstan said no, he immediately dropped his price by £200.
After the repair man completed the work she noticed the company name on his jobsheet was 24 Hour South London Glass, not CBS.
But when Mrs Dunstan turned to question the glazier, he bolted out of the door, got in a blue van and drove off – though not before her husband managed to note down the licence plate.
"It was only then that I realised it was all a scam," said Mrs Dunstan.
"Until that point it all seemed legitimate. I didn't think anything of him being there so quickly or even having the right size of glass.
"If he had boarded up the door, why wouldn't he come prepared?
"It's only now that I realise he never told me the name of the company and only knew how much to charge me because I showed him the CBS jobsheet, which had the company's name as the header.
"When he gave me his sheet later he saw my face and knew what I was thinking. Before I could say 'hang on a minute' he was out of the door."
A CBS source told the Advertiser it had fallen victim to the scam on at least four other occasions. Each time, the same man appears at a crime scene just a few hours after the incident and pretends to be one of the company's employees.
The suspected conman usually operates in the Horley/Gatwick area of Surrey.
The police, who would only confirm to the Advertiser that a fraud investigation was under way, told Mrs Dunstan that a person driving the same uninsured van had been cautioned for a similar offence last July.
Both CBS and the cafe owner are convinced there is more to the scam.
The day before the break-in, someone advertising 24 Hour South London Glass visited the locksmith across the road from PMT and put a sticker advertising the company in its window. The glazier who visited the cafe left the same sticker on the pane of glass he installed.
While a cash register was thrown on the floor, nothing was taken during the break-in. The intruder ignored a tips jar and a charity tin which were both full of money.
The Advertiser called the number the workman left with Mrs Dunstan and got through to a company which said it had sent 24 Hour South London Glass, one its subcontractors, to the cafe after being called by a concerned passer-by following the break-in.
The company claimed it had boarded up the property before the police arrived, describing allegations it was involved in a scam as "diabolical" and dismissing suggestion that the workman had been arrested last July.
But Mrs Dunstan said: "None of this adds up. I just wish I had asked him for some ID, but I was still shaken by what had happened."
The intruder who broke into Positively Marvellous Temptations was disturbed by a passer-by – who got a punch in the face for his troubles.
Michael Castle, 21, was on the way back to a friend’s house after a night out in Wallington when he noticed the intruder by the cafe.
As he and two friends walked towards him, the man, described as white and wearing a blue hooded top with a black cap, ran towards Addiscombe tram stop and jumped on a tram.
Mr Castle contacted the operator and was told the suspect had exited the tram at Lebanon Road.
The former Parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central returned to the cafe and called the police.
But while he was on the phone he was approached by four black youths, one of whom tried to grab the mobile and then punched him in the face.
Mr Castle and his friends ran away and a police car arrived shortly afterwards, followed by an ambulance.
The aspiring politician explained what had happened and then was taken to hospital where he had to have four stitches on his face.
On Wednesday, cafe owner Mrs Dunstan met Mr Castle, of Pirbright Crescent, New Addington, and thanked him for his efforts.
He said: "I don’t mind getting bopped in the face. It was only a flesh wound and I was doing the right thing.
"If you don’t stand up to people who do things like this then they think they can get away with it."