Hired Hands: Why Cuckooing Is A Crime That Targets The Vulnerable
Cuckooing is a term used to describe the criminal act of taking over someone else’s home. Predominantly an offence that targets the vulnerable, it has gained notoriety in the UK with the rise of County Lines drug gangs.
Victims are often drug users, those with mental health problems or learning disabilities, or simply the lonely.
Crooks prey on them to carry out criminal enterprises away from their own homes. This can involve the storing and selling of illicit drugs.
Victims are sometimes bribed with drugs. They may feel the person or people in their home are true friends. However, things can turn ugly if they start to object to the intrusion. They may be bullied, beaten, or even murdered.
Police are working hard to raise awareness of cuckooing. However, information campaigns are currently focused on gang crime spilling out from major cities into quieter, rural areas.
What many people may not realise is that there is another type of criminal who uses this method to get what they want. The thief.
Desperate people will go to extraordinary lengths to steal. Cuckoos have been known to use victims purely for a rent-free place to stay. Others have resorted to cuckooing to steal a person’s identity as well as their possessions.
One famous case in the UK involved a couple who befriended a lonely businessman. They moved into his home and, when he indicated they had worn out their welcome, murdered him. His body was chopped up and scattered around the countryside before his bank account was emptied.
Although rare, this is not an isolated incident.
In my book Hired Hands, I explore the vulnerabilities of those who employ live-in workers. I have focused on mainly older people, who are seeking help to maintain their independence.
There are publications in Britain with dedicated job sections for live-in carers, domestic workers, handymen and more.
Hired Hands follows couple Daniel and Danielle as they move from house to house – occasionally staying longer than intended. Their only aim is to live off their employers’ naivety. And, when things don’t work out, the body count rises.
A dark, twisted thriller, it explores the fragility of the criminal justice system, the invisibility of victims and hidden domestic abuse.
Hired Hands is available as a stand-alone book or in box set Lay Them To Rest.