A RISE in 'Nottingham knockers' is hitting South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, police have said.

Thames Valley Police has warned of a surge in reports of the doorstep scam artists in recent weeks.

The scam involves conmen moving from door to door under the guise of selling cleaning items.

The sellers often say that they are trying to get their lives back on track following a stint in prison.

Frequently, the knockers are simply trying to find out more about the property and homeowner – including whether they are vulnerable or could be scammed out of money.

They may also try to establish how much money is in the house or when the property may be left unoccupied.

Some scammers reportedly even sniff the bank notes they are paid for the cleaning products with to judge whether they may have come from a larger wad of cash being stored somewhere in the house.

The scam acquired its name simply because the origins of the criminal activity are in the midlands.

Scammers in Nottingham would go door to door selling their wares, and the technique quickly spread to counties throughout the UK.

The force has urged people not to buy any products from the Nottingham knockers and to report them to Trading Standards by calling 03454 04 05 06 or emailing tsinformation@oxfordshire.gov.uk

If residents feel threatened in anyway they are urged to contact police immediately on 999 (or 101 to report an incident after it has happened).