Sacto 9-1-1
February 6, 2009
Fake roof repairmen rob Roseville victim

From Bee Staff:

The return of rain to the area also has brought back a familiar scam - bogus roof repairmen who use a homeowner's concern for their property to rob.

Recently two suspects posing as repairmen talked their way into a home and stole money from a 75-year-old Roseville resident, said Dee Dee Gunther, Roseville Police Department spokeswoman.

Such "home repair" scam artists steal from senior citizens at least once or twice a year in Roseville, Gunther said. Bee archives show this home repair scams reported almost annually across the region.

In one case in 1999, a "handyman" rode up on a bicycle and talked a Sacramento homeowner into allowing him to do home repairs. Over the next year and a half, he stole more than $200,000 from the 80-year-old victim before he was caught.

Gunther gave this account of the roof repair scam:

At about 4 p.m. on Jan. 30, two men knocked on the door of a 75-year-old man on Cedar Street, and told him they needed to check the condition of his roof. The resident had not noticed any problems with his roof, and had not called anyone to make repairs, but he let the two men into his home anyway.

The men walked around the house, purportedly looking at the ceiling for spots where the roof might have leaked. The two "repairmen" went into different areas of the house and yard, so that the resident could not watch them both at the same time.

The suspects then told the resident they needed to go to their truck to get a warranty form, and would be right back. They then got into their pickup and left. The resident then noticed his wallet was lying open on a coffee table, and the cash inside his wallet was gone.

The suspects were both described as olive-complexioned males in their 20s, 6'1" tall, with black hair. One weighed approximately 150 pounds and wore a dark shirt; the other weighed approximately 200 pounds and wore a light colored sweatshirt.

They drove a white extended-cab pickup with a short bed. The pickup did not have any business name or logo on it.

Roseville Police Chief Mike Blair said: "This is an unfortunate reminder not to let strangers into your home. You should be suspicious of anyone claiming to be a repairman or utility worker, especially if you haven't requested services. If you feel uneasy about someone, tell them to leave your home, and then call police."

The National Crime Prevention Council advises residents not to accept offers from "drive up" workers who "just happen" to be in the neighborhood. If they're reliable, they'll come back after you check them out. Always ask for identification and a contractor's license number, and never pay with cash.

Bee archives show that sealing driveways or foundations rank with roof repair as the top bogus offers. Sometimes the con men take money for repairs that are not done or sometimes, as in the recent Roseville case, use the repair offer a ruse to gain entry for a robbery or sometimes they do both.

Sometimes "contractors" claim to have just completed a job in the victim's neighborhood, say they have leftover materials and offer a cut-rate price to do a similar job. However, the con artists either leave the victim's "down payment" or try to extort a much higher price after doing the work, which is often substandard.

A similar scam has the con artist show up in a fake utility worker's uniform and talk the victim into standing in the backyard while the con artist stays inside, free to rob.

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