Distraction burglary is defined as: “Any crime where a falsehood, trick or distraction is used on an occupant of a dwelling to gain, or try to gain, access to the premises in order to commit burglary.” Victims tend to find that they have had money and/or valuables stolen under false pretenses and in many cases will only realize that they have been victims some time after the offense was committed. Some individuals may ask to walk with them to your side or backyard under a false pretense while working in pairs and enter your home through your unlocked front door.
These criminals are often transient and highly organized, work alone or in pairs, and operate under an array of disguises. They often communicate through cell phone or a two-way communication device (handheld radio). They may pose as:
•utility company personnel (some may wear hard hats and traffic vests)
•door-to-door sales people
•care workers and nurses
•builders and gardeners
You may ask, how can you prevent you or a loved one from falling victim to this crime with so much else to worry about nowadays?
Consider these helpful tips from your Village of Palmetto Bay Policing Unit:
1. When someone knocks at the door, stop and think: •Are you expecting anyone? •If someone is claiming to be from a company always ask to see an ID or any associated paperwork thru your window. Door should remain close. •If you have any doubt, you should call the company they represent independently. Never call the number given by the individual, but instead locate it from another source, e.g. phonebook or directory.
2. Take extra measures: •Ensure that your back door is always closed if answering the front door. Individuals intent on gaining access to your property may be working in pairs – one distracts you at your front door while the other may be trying to enter your property via the back. •Keep valuables and items of sentimental value where they are not easily accessible. •Keep documents containing personal details out of sight, e.g. passport, utility bills, bank statements etc. •Keep your keys in a safe place and not on display.
3. Call the police:
•If you are suspicious or feel that the individual may be bogus.
•If someone forces entry or enters your home without permission.
•If you notice valuables or money have gone missing shortly after someone has visited.
•Whenever you think a crime has been, or is about to be, committed.
If you have any questions or simply need clarification on the above mentioned items, please feel free to contact our Policing Unit at 305-278-4000. We are in this together!