UK Schools Targeted by ‘Leftover Paint’ Scam

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2024

A school in North Yorkshire, England, was recently targeted by a scammer who was reportedly pretending to be a worker offering to paint parking lines and zebra crossings.

According to the BBC, the man claimed he worked for the Highways Agency and had "leftover line-painting material” for the job, asking for large sums of money after completing “substandard” work.

Following the incident, local police warned schools in the region of the potential scam, which occurred in the Hambleton area on Thursday, May 2. North Yorkshire Police had previously notified locals of two similar incidents which also took place at primary schools in York in April, though the offer of work was declined. The report adds that the suspect ultimately received no payment for the work. 

A spokesperson for the North Yorkshire Police stated that the "leftover paint" scam was often used by criminals who give low, verbal quotes before charging raised prices when they complete the work.

"The work is often completed to a low standard with substandard materials. A variation on the scam is to offer resurfacing work,” the spokesperson added.

"While on this occasion it appears schools are being targeted, other organizations such as churches, hospitals, sports clubs and private businesses—anywhere with car parks really—need to be vigilant."

He also explained that if people want this type of work done, they should "approach established companies or individuals that you can talk to again if anything goes wrong, and agree a price and contract in writing.”

According to a report from the Scarborough News, seven other schools in the York and Scarborough areas have contacted the police to say they had also been targeted since the incident on May 2, giving a similar description of the suspect. In those events, the suspect also did not receive any payment.

A release from the North Yorkshire Police stated that anyone who has been made an offer to carry out similar line painting work should contact their local trading standards team, in addition to the North Yorkshire Police.

The release added that it is urging any schools or any other organizations who have been approached to contact an officer if they have CCTV of the vehicle or suspect.

Other UK Road Painting News

In February, several new red fluorescent road markings in Herne Bay, England, had reportedly caused a series of complaints from residents who said they were hurting the area.

According to reports, the paint covered nine junctions across the town to warn motorists they were entering a 20-mile-per-hour zone, though those who live nearby were reportedly concerned.

According to The Telegraph, the idea for a new speed zone in the town was first announced in 2021, with the project approved after a public consultation in 2022.

All the projects were reportedly funded through an Active Travel Government grant to help encourage walking and cycling, with the new zones expected to be completed by the end of February.

Kent County Council, which was installing the new zones, said nine red entrance patches had been painted across Herne Bay, with white “20” markings set to be added when the weather will allow.

John Sheering, a retired policeman who lives next to one of the newly painted sections, told The Telegraph that he had seen workmen starting to paint the roads in the middle of the night.

“My dog alerted me, it was like a spaceship had landed. I looked out of the window to see what the commotion was and thought it was just normal roadworks. The road markings are way too much, they look awful too. Surely the simple 20 mph would have sufficed,” he said.

Sue Perry, another resident, called the markings “hideous.” “They are lurid, over the top and spoil the area. We had no warning and it’s just a waste of money,” she said.

Dan Watkins, a Herne Bay city and county councilor who played a large part in bringing the new paint scheme to the town, said that the color was “a little garish” and that concerns had been raised with him directly.

“I have been reassured by our highway engineers that it will mellow over time, and that has been the experience in other locations. But perhaps it is good to be bright at the start so it gets the message across and everyone is aware,” he added.

“There were 66 recorded road accidents in the area now covered by the 20 mph zone in the last five years, and that is what we need to reduce.”

Locals also reportedly raised concerns over how slippery the road markings got in the rain.

Another report from the BBC stated that over a dozen of the signs next to the zones had been vandalized and Kent County Police were investigating. Kent Police said the damage to the signs was believed to have been caused last Thursday (Feb. 15) evening.

The signs and markings appeared on roads off Sea Street, Fleetwood Avenue and Station Road in the town of Herne Bay.


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