Now that holidays are here, seniors need to stay alert! Last year, we started seeing a trend in Polk County, something we refer to as Distraction Burglaries and we’re now starting to see them pop up again, and we need you to help get the word out. Duke Power and other companies have important information on their websites informing you about these scams.
On December 4, 2018, PCSO detectives responded to Halabrin Road in Haines City where a husband and wife reported their home had been burglarized.
The victims stated a man claiming to work for Duke Energy showed up at their house and requested they come outside because he needed to show them an issue. The victims stated the suspect asked them to both leave the house, which took a while. The suspect then told them that Duke Energy would be coming out the next day to complete some work, but after he left, the victims called the company and found out there was no such scheduled work to be completed.
The victims started searching their home to see if anything inside was missing and they discovered their small safe, containing valuables, was missing.
The victims described the suspect as a Hispanic male between 35 and 40 years ago. He was driving a midsize white SUV with dark tinted windows and inside the vehicle was a female driver.
“Unfortunately, this is the season for “Grinches.” Folks, these criminals are smooth, so be leery of anyone who approaches your house and asks to get you outside. If something seems suspicious, call 9-1-1. ” – Grady Judd, Sheriff,”
Like the burglary above, in this type of crime, someone comes to your front door, posing as a surveyor, tree service, utility worker, etc. Their goal is the same…to get you out of your house. Once outside, they’ll speak to someone on their phone or walkie-talkie, giving their cohort in crime a signal. While the victim is speaking with this unknown person in the backyard, their partner enters through the front door and begins going through rooms, looking for valuables.
If you’re approached by someone, be very careful. If you choose to speak with them, ask them for identification, and a phone number of their employer so you can verify who they say they are, and that they are doing legitimate business.
If the suspect realizes things aren’t working, they’ll likely take-off to find an easier target. If that happens, try to get a picture of the suspect and their vehicle, preferably with a tag number.
If you have any information on this most recent burglary, call the Sheriff’s Office at (863) 298-6200. If you have information and you want to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or go to heartlandcrimestoppers.com.