Sacto 9-1-1
March 11, 2009
Phony repairmen scam Roseville woman out of her safe

From Niesha Lofing:

Roseville police are warning residents to be on the lookout for phony repairman who recently scammed an elderly woman and stole her safe.

Two men claiming to be repairmen came to the 89-year-old woman's home in the Sierra Gardens neighborhood between 4:45 and 5 p.m. Sunday, police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said.

"They just told her that they were there to look for cracks in the ceiling," she said.

One of the men went inside the home while the other man talked with the woman inside the garage.

After the men left, the woman discovered that her safe was missing from a bedroom.

Inside the safe were some personal paperwork and other collectable items, Gunther said.

The woman is OK.

A neighbor noticed the truck and told officers that there may have been third suspect who waited outside in a new-looking red Chevy pickup truck with custom chrome rims. There also may have been flames painted on the side of the truck.

The suspects were described as Hispanic and in their 20s or 30s. The pickup driver had a shaved head, stocky build and smoked a cigar, Gunther said. The other two suspects had medium builds and one wore a tan shirt, while the other wore a light-colored baseball cap.

The victim was not able to provide a detailed description of the men to police because of her age, Gunther said.

Roseville police investigated a similar scam a couple of months ago.

In that case, bogus repairmen targeted a 75-year-old man, telling him his roof might be leaking and his ceilings needed to be checked and stole cash from the man's wallet, which was on a table.

Typically, however, the scam artists "don't hit a whole lot of places because they move on to other cities," in an effort to avoid capture, Gunther said.

Gunther said residents should be wary of people who come to homes and claim to be repair workers, especially when they haven't been called.

"A repairman should have ID, a contractor's license number and a reputable worker will not pressure you to have the work done immediately or pay with cash," she said. "They'll give you time to check their credentials."

Utility workers should always have ID from their company and residents should be able to call the utility company to verify that the worker is legitimate, she said.

Police also caution against letting strangers in your home and hiring "drive-by" repair workers.

Scam artists also have targeted the elderly in Sacramento in the past, but police haven't had any cases recently, Sacramento Police Department spokesman Officer Konrad Von Schoech said.

In June, two men claiming to work for the "water department" went to an apartment in the Lemon Hill neighborhood and asked residents for a glass of water so they could inspect it. The men asked the residents to go outside and turn on the garden hose and while the residents were busy, the men ransacked the apartments, stealing cash.

Schoech said the elderly seem to be targeted more because they tend to question things less.

"The elderly seem to be a little more trusting," he said. "Especially when someone comes to their door in uniform or with official looking clothing."

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