SHERIFF WARNS RESIDENTS OF HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS
Wednesday, November 18, 2009— Cook County Sheriff’s Police have been investigating numerous reports of home improvement scams throughout suburban Cook County. Sheriff Tom Dart warns residents to be aware and take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.
These ‘gypsy’ scam artists target senior citizens and use the same basic scenario to commit their crime: one offender engages the homeowner in conversation while another enters the residence, taking cash, jewelry and other valuables in plain sight that are easily concealed and removed. They use many ruses to gain the homeowner’s immediate trust, including stating they work for a utility company and that a problem has been reported in the area or that they work for a company that specializes in a specific type of repair, which they happened to notice needs to be made on the house as they were driving by.
“Homeowners should take basic safety precautions, such as making sure doors and windows are locked and valuables like money and jewelry and kept in a safe, secure place, when not being used,” said Dart. “They should also be suspicious of anyone who shows up on their doorstep, unsolicited, offering to make specific repairs.”
The subjects have been described as males, between the ages of 20’s to 40’s, average height and weight, of Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent.
Additional steps that should be taken to avoid becoming a victim include:
- Don’t invite strangers into your home, especially if you are home alone
- Ask to see a work i.d. card – remember, utility company employees should have their i.d. displayed
- If someone tells you they are with a utility, call that utility to verify work is being done in your area
- Ask them to leave a brochure and/or business card in your mailbox
- Call your local police department if they persist and won’t leave
Sheriff’s Police are asking anyone who may have been a victim of one of these scams or anyone with any information to contact the Investigations Unit at (708) 865-4896.