'Do not open the door': More stories of early morning scam revealed

Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 21 Aug 2019, 1:57PM
The early morning visitor was heard conferring with men in the driveway of the home. (Photo / 123RF)
The early morning visitor was heard conferring with men in the driveway of the home. (Photo / 123RF)

'Do not open the door': More stories of early morning scam revealed

Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 21 Aug 2019, 1:57PM

A second Aucklander has revealed she was also targeted by a sinister scam involving a woman who knocks on a door in the early morning claiming she needs help as accomplices lurk nearby.

It comes the day after a mum-of-three shared her experience with an early morning visitor.

The second complainant, a North Shore woman, has spoken out about the "scary" moment she opened her door to a woman claiming to be asking for help.

The Beach Haven resident told the Herald that she had a similar experience in June of this year, receiving a knock on her front door in the early hours of the morning and finding a woman pleading for help, claiming she had been attacked by four men.

"I heard somebody knocking and my initial thought was it was probably one of kids coming home from going out and didn't have their keys," the woman told the Herald.

"My bedroom door is right opposite the kitchen window and that window has the roller blinds. We didn't pull them down and the light in the kitchen was on. So I saw from my door a lady standing at that window.

"And then I walked towards the kitchen and she was waving from the window so I opened the front door and she came to me and she said four guys have attacked her."

She said she the situation was a "bit scary" but decided to investigate.

"I just opened the door halfway and then I said, 'What guys?' and she was mumbling something like 'they attacked me, they attacked me'."

"At that moment I heard voices and looked up at my driveway and I could see people, shadows of people because it was still dark."

"It was a bit scary at that moment for me and I thought 'is this real?' so I said to her 'wait a minute'. I closed the door and locked it straight away."

Then the woman's fears were realised: "Then I heard her saying 'see, I told you' to the people over there," she told the Herald.

"So I went to my sitting room and pulled the curtain and looked outside and instead of walking out of the driveway I saw her walking from the back of my driveway. So she probably went around the back of my driveway because my kids rooms are around that side."

The woman was at home with her partner and three adult children and immediately went to wake her partner.

"She said she was attacked but I didn't see anything on her, any bruises or any scratches."

"I actually was angry at myself for opening the door. I could imagine something happening. The lady was bigger than me."

She described the visitor as a stocky, light-skinned Māori in her late 20s.

The long-time Beach Haven resident said the area "feels scary".

"I've seen things happening around this area like gangs and stuff. I keep to myself and tell the kids not to wander around late at night."

She offered advice to anyone else that received an unwelcome visitor: "Do not open the door unless you know who's knocking."

"When I closed the door I realised I made a mistake that night, opening the door."

Senior Constable Paul Donaldson, the acting Sergeant at Glenfield Station, told the Herald that anyone had the right to knock on someone's door: "It's a common law right for any citizen to knock on anybody's front door, regardless of the time, unless they have been trespassed from that property."

He advised that "if someone is knocking on your door at that time in the morning and you're not expecting it, try and see, without turning on the lights, who is at the door, without going to the door".

"Speak to them through and side window and say 'what do you want' and qualify their intent."

Donaldson advised anyone believing that a visitor had a genuine need to tell them to wait on the doorstep and call police.

"Don't put yourself at any risk of going out there and getting involved in potentially a scheme that will see you a victim of their ill-intent," he said.

In yesterday's case, a mother-of-three from Beach Haven posted on a Facebook community group, urging others to look out for a woman that knocked on her door: "4am this morning we had a girl lightly knock three times at our door", she wrote.

"She said 'let me in I need some help', she was very clearly not distressed. Normally I would but I've seen posts where there's a male waiting outside.

Be warned, don't let her in. Called police straight away who have come and are out looking. Not a nice thing to happen when you have three children in the house."

The woman told the Herald she was "just shattered" after the incident and described what happened during the chilling encounter.

"My front door has glass panels, I heard a faint knock after settling Bubs, then I heard it again, so went to the other end of the house and there was no one at the front door," she said.

"I pulled the handle down to make sure it was locked, turned around to walk away and she knocked again, I turned back around and she was standing there."

The woman, whose three young children and husband were sleeping in the house, then confronted the visitor.

I said to her 'what do you want?' She just said 'let me in, I need some help'. I yelled and told her I'm not letting you in go away or I'll call the cops. She left fast."

Other Beach Haven residents thanked her for the warning, saying that thieves were getting "more and more brazen".

Others described similar instances of strangers coming to the door and asking for people who did not live at the house.

Some questioned if the woman really needed help and asked if the young mum should have opened the door.

She responded that she couldn't "take that chance" and that there was "no urgency in her voice at all".

One woman shared her own story of fleeing domestic violence, saying that she had been forced to run to strangers' houses at "ungodly hours", before agreeing that she "probably wouldn't open the door either".

A Police spokesperson confirmed that they attended the incident and checked the nearby area for the unknown woman, but were unable to locate her.

They said: "Police acknowledge the member of the public did the right thing by calling Police. We encourage anyone who at any point feels unsafe or sees anything suspicious to call 111. Police are not immediately aware of any similar incidents in the area."

Police recommend people follow this advice to keep their homes secure and suggested remembering these key points:

• Don't open the door to strangers. Install a peephole in your door. If you don't know someone, keep the door closed.

• Have a phone by your bed.

• Arrange with a neighbour to phone or visit you if your curtains are still drawn after a certain time in the morning.

• Never tell someone that you are alone in the house.

• Install a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is at your door.

• Keep your doors and windows secure and close your curtains at night.

• Invest in good-quality, secure locks.