A so-called "snake scam" has spread from the Bay area to Roseville, police said.
Burglars posing as animal control officers knocked on the doors of at least two homes in Roseville on Monday. The fake animal control officers asked to check the property for poisonous snakes.
In the first instance, about 3:45 p.m. Monday, a woman wearing brown clothes resembling an animal control uniform asked the Chancellor Avenue resident if she could check the yard for snakes. Her request was denied because the resident was aware of a Bay area snake scam and didn't let her in the house.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, elderly residents in Fremont, Union City, Hayward and San Mateo were visited by a man or a woman claiming to be with animal control.
The fake animal control officers in the Bay area said they needed to check the property for snakes or trim a neighbor's tree. While the phony animal control officer distracted the homeowner in the backyard, an accomplice burglarized the homes.
Roseville police said that about 5 p.m. Monday the scam was tried again, this time at a home in the area of Cirby Way and Inglis Drive. The visitor said she was from Roseville Animal Control and that she needed to check the property due to an infestation of poisonous snakes.
She asked the homeowners to accompany her to the backyard where the fake animal control officer measured a shed. She then told the residents that someone would return to set some traps.
Later, according to Roseville police, the residents discovered items missing from their home. Police suspect that an accomplice of the fake animal control officer went into the home while the residents were pre-occupied in the back yard by the shed-measuring scam artist.
The fake animal control officer was described as a Hispanic woman in her late 20s or early 30s, about 5 feet 3 inches tall with a stocky build and dark, shoulder-length hair. She wore a navy blue button-up shirt with the City of Roseville logo and khaki pants.
Roseville police note that it is very unusual for city or other utility workers to make unsolicited visits. If anyone claiming to be a city or utility worker visits and service has not been requested, be on guard.
Police advise resident in those cases to call the number of the city department or utility to find out if workers have been sent to the neighborhood. Don't call a number provided by the possible scammer.
Also, police ask that any other residents who may have recently been visited by suspected snake scammers to call the department at (916) 774-5000, extension 1.