WITH the weather getting warmer and the days getting longer, householders across Swindon are starting to think about sprucing up the outside of their homes.

But residents are being warned to beware of a gutter cleaning scam that has been reported by several people in the town.

The con involves two men, occasionally one, calling at doors and asking if they would like their gutters cleaned out.

When the householder agrees to have the work done the callers climb up a ladder and appear to be doing the work.

After a short while they call at the door again to collect their payment, usually about £20, and say that while they were on the roof they noticed some loose tiles that need replacing.

They offer to go to the DIY store and get some tiles, and after taking some more money from the householder to buy the supplies they drive off and do not return.

It is a con that is already well known to both the police and neighbourhood watch schemes.

"It has been resurrected again because of the lighter evenings and the weather getting better," said Margaret Anscombe, who is the Neighbourhood Watch liaison officer for the town.

"Most people want to spruce up the outside of their houses and having the gutters cleaned is one of the jobs people mean to do but never get round to.

"So this is seen to be a great opportunity."

So far Margaret has received three reports of this crime, but said the police logs would probably revealed more.

"They usually prey on people who live alone and are elderly," she said.

"When these men knock on the door and say they will clean the gutters for £20 they think that is cheap and agree to have the work done."

Margaret advised residents to only undertake work with reputable businesses.

"These types of tradesman are often very busy and do not need to go from door to door looking for business," she said.

"If you want any work done look in the Yellow Pages for people with accreditations or ask friends and neighbours for recommendations. That way you know they are trustworthy."

Anyone who is suspicious about cold callers who knock offering to carry out this type of work is asked to report it to Swindon police on 0845 408 7000.

Any resident who becomes suspicious while work is being carried out can call 999.