shadow of man knocking on door

Door knocking scams turn nasty for South West London residents

Residents in South West London are alarmed by the frequency of door knocking scams in winter 2023

Nasty knocks

Robert Eagle, 74, had his door kicked in after refusing to give money to a knocker purporting to be an ex-serviceman. 

The man initially spoke to Eagle’s wife offering a hard-luck story, wearing a maroon beret typically associated with the parachute regiment. 

When he couldn’t produce any charity credentials beyond an old photograph, the couple politely declined making a donation. 

Eagle said: “The gentleman then fly-kicked the front door causing one of the wooden panels to collapse and he took my next door neighbour’s gate off its hinges.” 

Eagle, an art dealer from West Chiswick, took to online noticeboard NextDoor to share his experience within a chain of concerns other residents raised about door knocking scams. 

One user in Kew cited two knocks she had in early February and noticed these incidents are becoming more frequent. 

The first claimed to be raising money for HIV and meningitis, but could not provide documentation. 

The second was asking for £50 after claiming he had been locked out of his house and needed money to get back in. 

Charity hoaxes are a frequent cause of frustration for residents and Eagle said: “they can be corrosive to community spirit.”

Justin O’Toole, 31, has been doorstopped and echoed Eagle’s sentiment about door knocking scams generating mistrust within the community. 

He said: “Scammers know when to act and who to target, like elderly people. 

“They identify anyone they perceive to be vulnerable and often knock in the evenings or late at night.” 

O’Toole had a knocker in recent weeks offering home improvements and claiming he had just finished a job for one of O’Toole’s neighbours. 

When questioned about which neighbour, the knocker immediately changed his story and said the work was done on a separate road, leading O’Toole to doubt his credibility. 

He said: “If they can’t go five seconds without lying to my face, I’m not going to trust them.” 


O’Toole has been involved in Isleworth neighbourhood watch and is currently a co-ordinator for his area on Online Watchlink

Without CCTV or video doorbells, O’Toole noted it can be difficult to provide police with sufficient evidence to correctly identify scammers. 

Online Watchlink, however, provides direct links to local police and councils to formulate profiles on repeat offenders.  

With situations like Eagle’s resulting in violence, it is also necessary to stimulate a self-defence mindset in the community.

Nicoletta Pilardi and Sensei Jon Elkon run a “self-defence for seniors” class at the Shin Bushido karate centre in Hammersmith. 

Pilardi is a mother of two who has done martial arts from a young age and the classes are instructed by Elkon who has over 40 years’ experience. 

Pilardi in a self defence for seniors class
FIGHTING BACK: Self-defence for seniors class Image: Nicoletta Pilardi

The classes are typically around six people and are run at the studio to create a relaxed environment where pupils feel confident. 

She said: “We are like a community. The intimate atmosphere means people can open up about their experiences and we can have honest discussions.” 

The class covers three levels of threat, from grabbing and punching up to handling weapon threats and dangerous groups. 

Bushido’s classes are also open to teenagers and they have started sessions at secondary to schools to help teenage girls develop self-defence faculties. 

Pilardi added: “Prevention is key. It’s a sad reality but there are always threats around. 

“After two or three classes, seniors’ confidence has already grown.

“When they walk the streets, they have a lot more awareness about anticipating and avoiding dangerous scenarios.” 

Visit Shin Bushido’s facebook page to find out more information.

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