HOME owners across Redbridge have been warned to be on their guard for scam telephone callers offering 'free' burglar alarms.

The warning comes after some residents received calls from people claiming to be from a 'semi-governmental UK organisation' involved in crime prevention, who say they are working on behalf of a fire and safety alarm company offering free devices.

A council spokeswoman said: "Residents are told there has been a rise in the crime rate where they live and they need to protect themselves by installing a burglar alarm.

"They may be told that some free systems are available and (that) they are a winner.

"Although the alarm is 'free,' it may be very poor quality and residents could end up paying a very high cost for monitoring.

"The company absorbs the cost of the installation and equipment in the monthly charge for maintenance and monitoring, but residents could find themselves in a contract meaning they pay thousands of pounds for maintenance and monitoring over the next few years."

"Any resident who receives a call like this is advised to call Consumer Direct on: 0845 04 05 06 for advice."