Hertfordshire Constabulary and Dacorum Borough Council are urging local businesses to stay alert following a number of scams involving a man falsely claiming to be from the council’s licensing department.
Police investigating the incidents have also released an image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.
The incidents occurred in Hemel Hempstead town centre on Wednesday 22 June. A man has gone into three different Eastern European supermarkets, falsely claiming that the store had unpaid alcohol licence fees and demanding immediate payment.
In one case, staff handed over £200 to the man. The shop owners in the other incidents refused to give any money and the offender left the store empty-handed.
Police are linking the three crimes and believe it was the same offender in all three incidents.
PC Johanna Miles, from the Hemel Hempstead Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Staff and business-owners throughout the borough need to be aware of this kind of scam. The man has targeted innocent businesses in Hemel making claims that were completely bogus.
“The man seen in the photo is believed to have been in the area at the time of the offences and may have information that is vital to our investigation. I am keen to trace this person as soon as possible. If you have any information that could assist our investigation I would urge you to get in touch with police as soon as possible.”
Ross Hill, Licensing Team Leader at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “The man involved in the incident is not believed to have any connection with the council. While premises licences issued by Dacorum Borough Council do require an annual fee to be paid, this will only ever be requested by way of an official council invoice, posted to the licence-holder, which should be paid by following the instructions on the rear.
“Licensing officers from the council will never request a cash payment to be made to them during a visit to licensed premises. Council officers will also carry and produce a Dacorum ID badge during any visit.”
Anyone who recognises the man in the photo or has any information about any of the incidents should contact PC Miles on the Hertfordshire Constabulary non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference D1/16/4610.
Any business that is approached by a person asking for immediate payment of a licence fee should call police immediately on 999.
Further advice about any fee payments can be obtained from Dacorum’s Licensing team on 01442 228470 or 228860 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, if you have any information about this incident you can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.