Worried residents in Northamptonshire are living in fear after a number of mysterious chalk markings were left on houses.
They say they are “petrified” because the method is often associated with burglaries and has also been linked to dog thefts in the past six months.
Several homes in Desborough, Northants, had chalk marks lefts on walls, families people into a panic.
Locals fear it could be linked to a fake energy salesman some have seen in the area.
Gemma Smallbones says she discovered the marking after answering the door to a man claiming to be from supplier Utilita.
She has been left “petrified” after finding the chalk on the side of her home.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed that they have not sent a representative door-to-door.
She said: “He was telling me that I was paying too much electric on my pay as you go meter. I told him that I don’t have pay as you go and I pay monthly, then he seemed to be in a rush to go.
“He was acting strangely, stood really close to the pane of glass in my front door like he was looking through it, he didn’t step back when I opened the door.
“He made me feel uncomfortable so I just wanted to get rid of him. When he had gone I checked outside and found the chalk marking and this made me feel petrified for my family and my dogs. Obviously we had been targeted for something but we don’t know what.”
The woman added: “There are lots of other people who had the same person come to their house in the area but only three of us had markings that I know of.
“One of them said her neighbour had CCTV of two men and it wasn’t the man that came to my address. But they could be working in gangs.”
Another Desborough local, Kristy Clayforth-Lee, noticed the white markings on her door and fence.
“I have no idea when the markings were put up, but it was yesterday at 2:30pm I saw a dodgy bloke hanging around the back of the houses,” she said.
“I saw a man acting suspiciously wearing black trousers and a black sweatshirt wearing a lanyard and holding something. He had no business being at the rear of the properties, if he was genuine he would be knocking on the front door!
“Also, he avoided looking at me and turned to the side when I tried to get a good look at him at the end of the drive, but I did take note that he wasn’t a young man. I found one marking then another later on when I got back from the school run.”
Sarah Sharpe, also from Desborough, also had a knock at the door.
“He says he’s from Utilita,” she said. “He was very persistent and would not leave when I told him I had to leave to take my son to nursery. He then came back twice even though I said I wasn’t interested.”
Although nobody has witnessed anyone drawing the markings on their houses and fences, locals believe that the fake Utilita men and the markings could be linked.
Northamptonshire Police said: “We gave crime prevention advice and asked the caller to call us again if they see the same people in the area again.
“We would advise the same to anyone who notices suspicious activity in their area and to ensure that their houses are left safe and secure at all times.”
A spokesperson from Utilita said: “We are not aware of anyone pretending to be Utilita salesmen in that area. We did however receive reports of someone saying they were from Utility Point.
“What we would say is that customers should remain vigilant. There are rogue traders who pretend to be energy salesmen, sadly it happens a lot in this industry.
“All Utilita salesmen and engineers have identification cards so if they don’t have that, you know they’re not legitimate. If you are suspicious of someone who comes to your door, don’t give them any personal information, just say no thank you, close the door, and report them.”