Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. is alerting the public about a scam where one suspect attempts to lure a homeowner outside or distract them while another suspect breaks into the home to commit a robbery.
In the latest incident, Martinez says, a suspect knocked on a Lake County homeowner’s front door and told him his family had performed repairs at the property many years ago.
“He asked the homeowner for permission to install a sign advertising his business on the lot,” Martinez stated. “Then, he asked the homeowner to come outside and indicate where his property line was for placement of the sign. The homeowner suspected that this was some type of scheme to distract him, and eventually he refused to speak with the suspect and closed his front door.”
“The victim says he watched the suspect leave, but a second man appeared about 10 minutes later claiming to be a town representative checking the water quality of homes in the area,” Martinez stated. “When the resident refused to allow the man to enter his home, he told the homeowner he needed to make a phone call to ask a ‘supervisor’ what to do. After allegedly making the call on his cell phone, he asked the resident if he could borrow a pencil so he could write his information down. The resident refused and closed his door.”
“The resident called his son who visited the home and found that a door on the garage appeared to have been forced open,” Martinez stated. A screwdriver was found nearby on the ground.”
Martinez stated on social media that these are some of the many ways scammers are targeting homeowners, especially the elderly and those living in rural areas, in Lake County.
The following tips were given to the public to help keep them and their valuables safe:
-Verify whether you know the person on your doorstep. If you don’t recognize them, use extra caution and don’t open the door.
-Make sure all entries to the home are locked. Suspects often work in pairs and will try several ways to access the home.
-Beware of people who say they are from municipal government or a utility company. These agencies typically warn consumers they do not show up unannounced.
-Watch out for the “high-pressure” approach. Suspects often attempt to rush the homeowner or ask a lot of questions to confuse or intimidate the homeowner. When a homeowner refuses to talk to them, they may insist on continuing the conversation.
-Be cautious about people offering unsolicited door-to-door home repairs. In many cases the offer is simply the first stage of a fraud or robbery.
-If you suspect strangers are pulling a scam, call 9-1-1 immediately.