MCSO Crime Alert: Distraction thieves


The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is urging citizens to be on the look-out for distraction thieves working their way into our area.

Here is what you need to know:

Distraction thieves, sometimes referred to as “gypsy burglars”, work in teams. They show up at your home claiming to be utility or repair workers, land survey or tree trimmers, water treatment specialists or similar. They appear official and dress according to their said service. Often times, they have work related vehicles. The thieves are polite and may try to convince you that there is a sense of urgency in what they need to do. Their goal is to get you outside of the home and distract you. Then other burglars go into your home and steal. It happens in a matter of minutes.

How they operate

In some cases, thieves will convince you to allow them into your home. Then they will distract you with an “urgent matter”, while others move to other rooms and steal valuables. In one case, suspects convinced an elderly victim that her water was contaminated. The suspects urged the victim to wash her hands with milk to “decontaminate” her skin. Thieves will do this in an effort to loosen a victim’s rings.
Some burglars may gain access to your home by requesting to use the phone for an emergency call. Distraction burglars could be male or female, and could appear to be alone. They are not.

Suspects typically target the elderly, but will take advantage of any opportunity to victimize.

If someone comes to your home and claims to be a service worker you did not request, or asks to use your phone for any purpose, remain aware of your surroundings. Stay inside your home and let them know you are calling the Martin County Sheriff’s Office prior to any work or service being done. A legitimate service will be happy to wait for a deputy to arrive.

Please make your family members and neighbors aware of this alert and report any suspicious activity.

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  • Posted 7 years ago

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