Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Burglary Robbery

Home Burglary Dupes Pensioners

01/08 - (UK) - Bogus callers tricked an elderly man and a woman out of cash in separate raids on the same day.

A woman claiming to be a council worker talked her way into an 80-year-old woman's home in Gooding Avenue, Braunstone, at 10.30am on Wednesday.

The suspect, who was carrying a clipboard, was let in by the woman and then searched the property, claiming she needed to check it.

After she left, the victim noticed cash, a silver watch and a brown leather purse were missing.

The burglar was white with tanned skin, aged 30 to 40 and about 5ft 4in tall. She wore a brown coat.

The second distraction burglary happened at about 1.30pm in Caldecott, near Uppingham.

A man knocked on the 85-year-old male victim's door, got chatting to him and was invited in.

He left when a neighbour came round, having stolen money from the victim's wallet.

The suspect was white, about 50, with dark hair and a bald patch. He was 5ft 10ins tall and clean shaven.


Residential Burglary by Bogus Callers

01/08 - (UK) - WILTSHIRE Police are investigating a distraction burglary at the home of an elderly woman in Patney near Devizes.

Money was stolen during the con which took place today at about 1pm.

A man called at the woman's home to say he was running some pipes to a sewer and asked her to go outside to show him where her pipes were.

She then found a second man inside her house and she discovered money had been stolen.

Police have not disclosed how much money was stolen.

They have issued descriptions of the men.

The man who spoke to the woman was 5ft 10inches tall, clean shaven, aged between 30 and 40 and wearing a blue/green jacket.

His accomplice was shorter and wearing a navy blue jacket and a navy blue knitted hat.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 0845 408 7000.

The police advise householders not to open the door to any unknown callers and if suspicious to call 999.


Burglary Police Issue Warning

01/08 - (UK) - Police are appealing for witnesses after a distraction burglary in Shepshed.

The incident happened between 9.30am and 11.30am on Thursday, January 10 in Kirkhill, when the 75-year-old victim answered her back door to a man claiming to be from the water board.

He entered the house and asked the victim to empty the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

While she was doing this it is believed a second man entered the house and carried out a search of the property. A short while later the victim noticed her handbag, purse and cash had gone missing.

The man who knocked on her door is described as around 5'5" tall, in his 30s and was wearing a khaki coat.

PC Philip Martindale from Shepshed local policing unit said: "Although the victim was not hurt she has been left shocked and distressed by the incident.

"We would appeal to anyone who was in the area who saw a man matching this description acting suspiciously to get in touch.

"I would also like to speak to anyone who was visited in similar circumstances. Any information could help us with our enquiries.

"The victim did not report this incident to us straight away and it was a neighbour who urged her to contact us. It's really important that anyone who is a victim of this type of crime gets in contact with us.

"We also need to hear from you if you've had any suspicious callers. Even the smallest pieces of information can help us find the people responsible and prevent other people becoming victims so it's really important that you get in touch."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC 1799 Philip Martindale on 0116 222 2222, follow the instructions to leave a message for a police officer and when prompted key in the officer's identification number 1799. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers, which is free and anonymous on 0800 555 111.


House Burglary Crooks Pose as Police

01/08 - (UK) - Conmen targeted an elderly man in his Swansea Valley home by posing as security officers and telling him they had come to check for fingerprints after a burglary.They stole cash from a wallet after the 83-year-old victim found the two strangers standing in his Clydach kitchen.

Police say they are appalled at the incident and have appealed for help in finding the brazen burglars.

Detective Inspector Simon Davies, from Swansea North CID, said: "We are very concerned that they targeted an elderly victim in this way."

The homeowner found the two men in the kitchen of his Capel Road house at around 6.40pm on Thursday evening - they had apparently got in to the property through a back door.

They told him there had been a burglary and that they had come to check for fingerprints.

One of the men then talked to the victim while his accomplice searched the house, taking cash from a wallet in a bedroom.

The two men then fled.

Police have issued descriptions of two men they want to question about the distraction burglary.

The first man is described as a white male aged between 25 and 35, of slim build and around 5ft 8in. He was wearing a black jacket and black hooded top.

The second man, who was wearing a light coloured hooded top, is 5ft 7in and aged around 35.

Mr Davies appealed for help in tracing the burglars.

"We are anxious to find these two men," he said.

"If anybody has any information about what happened, or was in the area at the time and saw anything suspicious, I would ask them to contact police."

Can you help? Call Swansea North CID on 01792 456999, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


Home Security Tips to Avoid Distraction Burglary

01/08 - (UK) - POLICE are hunting a man with a “large mouth” and another with “eyebrows which point upwards” following a distraction burglary.

The incident happened on Britannia Road, Ipswich, between 4.30pm and 5pm.

An 82-year-old woman saw two men in her neighbour's garden and then moments later saw a man in her conservatory.

The man said that his dog had chased an injured cat in to her garden. Both occupants of the house helped him look for the cat leaving the house unoccupied.

On returning to the house, the occupants located two other men who made off with a quantity of cash.

The first man is described as white, aged mid 20s, 5'6” to 5'8” tall, medium build, with short fair hair and clean shaven. He was wearing a three-quarter-length light coloured thin shower proof style coat and dark trousers. He was further described as very tidy and respectable looking.

The second man is described as white, about 20-years-old, 5'8” tall, slim build, with collar length dark wavy untidy hair and unshaven. He was wearing a long sleeved black/white stripy thick sweater. He was also described as scruffy with a thin face and eyebrows that pointed upwards.

The third man is described as white, about 30-years-old, medium build, with dark wavy untidy hair and a deep rough voice. He was wearing a dark sweater and dark trousers. He was also described as scruffy and having a large mouth.

Anyone with information should contact Dc James Booth at Ipswich CID on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Report Burglary by Bogus Utility Workers

01/08 - (UK) - POLICE are again reminding residents not to let strangers into their home following another incident of a vulnerable woman being targeted by bogus 'water board' workers.

At about 2.15pm today, a man knocked on the door of a house in Lydney. The resident, who is in her 80s, let him in after he told her he needed to check the property following a water main burst.

When he had gone, she found a quantity of cash was missing.

The offender is white, about 6ft tall and of large build. He was dressed in a deer stalker-style hat and black clothing.

Today's distraction burglary follows two other incidents this week.

At about 4.30pm on Tuesday, January 15, a man called at a home in Stonehouse claiming to be from the council.

He told the resident, a woman in her eighties, that he needed to come in to check the water supply.

After being shown an ID card, she let him in. Shortly after he had gone she discovered a small amount of cash was missing from her home.

On Monday, about £700 cash was stolen from another woman in her eighties after she let two men pretending to be police officers checking for flood contamination into her home in the Robinswood area of Gloucester.

Superintendent Geoff Brookes said: "These offenders are despicable but cunning and confident individuals. Residents must be robust in confirming their details with the authority they claim to represent before letting them into their homes.

"Use a number from the phone book to do this rather than one the caller might give you as this could simply put you through to an accomplice.

"Don't worry if it takes a little while to find the number. Any bona fide caller will understand your concerns and be happy to wait or come back."

If you have information which could help officers trace the man involved in the Lydney crime, please call police on 0845 090 1234, quoting incident number 289 of January 17 as soon as possible. Or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


Home Robbery Scam Uses Snakes as Distraction for Burglary

09/08 - (Florida) - Pinellas County sheriff's detectives are investigating a twist on an old robbery scam, this one involving thieves claiming they were hired to remove poisonous snakes from a homeowner's property.

Items are taken once the thieves gain access to the home, the sheriff's office said.

In past incidents, thieves told a story about checking for gas leaks, mold or termites.

The most recent robbery occurred about 11 a.m. Wednesday at a Pasadena home, detectives said. One man knocked on the door and told the homeowner he was a "snake pest control man."

Homeowner Marilyn Byrd, 80, told deputies that as the two were talking, the man sprayed her hand with what appeared to be snake poison he carried in a bottle. He said he had done it by accident and offered to treat her hand with warm water and milk.

The man used a walkie-talkie to call a second man, and they both went inside with Byrd.

One man helped Byrd put her hand in the milk and water and removed a ring from her finger, detectives said. The man told Byrd he was putting the ring in the refrigerator and that she needed to keep her hand in the milk solution for 10 minutes.

While her hand was immersed in the solution, the second man searched the house, detectives said. Byrd told deputies the men left before she realized the ring was not in the refrigerator.

Other valuables were missing, too.

The first man is was 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9, in his mid- to late 30s, with a thin to medium build and an olive complexion. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt. The woman could not provide a detailed description of the second man.

These types of robberies typically occur in Pinellas County during the winter months and often target senior citizens, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's office offers the following tips to avoid these scams:

Never open the door for unexpected visitors.

Never do business with people who you have not asked to come to your home.

Verify the person's identity by asking for an ID.

Check to see whether there is a vehicle associated with the visitor.

Call the sheriff's office at (727) 582-6200 to report suspicious activity.

Anyone with information on the snake control scam or any similar incidents can call Detective Curtis Skinner or Sgt. Charles Degenhardt at (727) 582-6200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).

(SunCoast News)

Burglars Pretend to Be Tree Removal Workers During Home Theft

01/08 - (New Jersey) - Two people posing as employees of a tree removal company managed to talk their way into a home in the 900 block of Bridgeton Pike and steal a credit card and $120 in cash, police said.

Police said the couple told a 79-year-old woman resident at about 4 p.m. Thursday that they were hired to clear trees from the property behind hers so her neighbor could put up a fence, and said they would have to be doing some work on her property, as well, police said.

The man said, "It sure is cold," then asked if he could use the victim's bathroom, said police.

The female half of the scam team tried to keep the victim occupied signing some papers while the man used the bathroom.

The man then said he'd get additional paperwork from the truck, but when he got to the white, unmarked pickup truck, called back to his female accomplice and said he was out of the proper forms, according to police.

The female then told the victim they'd go get the proper paperwork and come back in about a half hour, police said.

The victim was uneasy with the entire incident, looked around and discovered a credit card and an envelope containing $120 cash were missing.

The victim reported the credit card stolen immediately, police said.

Police learned that someone tried to use the credit card at 5:30 p.m. at a Target store in Philadelphia, but the card had already been canceled.

The victim said the female was wearing an orange lace top, glasses and blue jeans, said police. The pickup truck might have had an extended cab.

The neighbor behind the victim's house said he wasn't putting up a fence and had not hired a tree removal company.


Water Board Burglars Distract Elderly Victim in Home Burglary

03/08 - (UK) - An elderly person was burgled after being conned into letting bogus water board officials into their home.

It happened at an address in Cunningham Road, West Earlham, in Norwich between 11.45am and noon on Wednesday, March 12.

The first offender gained access to the house by falsely claiming that there was a water leak at the address next door and that water was coming through the ceiling. He stated that he needed to check the pipes and kept the elderly victim occupied in the kitchen turning on the water taps and searching for pipes.

Whilst the first man stayed in the kitchen with the victim, two other men entered the house and searched through the upstairs bedroom and downstairs living room. A substantial amount of cash was stolen from the address.

Police are warning other people to be on their guard and are linking the offence with a similar offence on the same afternoon in Hooper Lane, off Sprowston Road, in Norwich.

The first offender was aged about 25 to 30, about 5ft 3ins, of slim build, clean shaven, with short dark brown hair. He was wearing a dark-coloured zip-up jacket and dark-coloured trousers.

The second was about 40, about 5ft 3ins, of chubby build, clean shaven with slightly dark-coloured skin, and short curly black hair. He was wearing a dark-coloured jacket and spoke with a strong accent.

The third was about 45, 5ft 10ins, clean shaven, of stocky build, with short straight sandy-coloured hair and a fresh complexion. He was wearing a light brown jacket.

The men are believed to have walked off along Cunningham Road and turned right into Edgeworth Road.

Police would like to hear from anyone in West Earlham who saw these men in this area at around midday on Wednesday.

Anyone with any information should contact Det Con Jerry Simpson at Norwich CID on 0845 4564567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


Lister, Stuart C. and Wall, David S., "Deconstructing Distraction Burglary: An Ageist Offence?". - Research Paper (pdf)

Distraction Burglary