The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is warning the community that “distraction burglars” are targeting older adults in our community. Don’t be fooled by strangers posing as utility company workers, roof or home repair professionals, or other fake workers trying to get access to your home. Help family members, neighbors and friends, older adults and grandparents, know the facts and learn safety tips that can help protect against distraction burglars or other types of elder fraud. Awareness is one of our best crime prevention tools. Victims of Elder Fraud may report to their local law enforcement agency http://bit.ly/LawEnforcementLinks and/or call the District Attorney’s Elder Fraud hotline 1-855-DA-Elder (1-855-323-5337). For resources in three languages or to learn more about other types of scams targeting older adults, visit:
http://bit.ly/ScamsBrochureVietnamese (Tiếng Việt).
WHAT ARE DISTRACTION BURGLARS? Local law enforcement agencies around the county have received information concerning people in the area who are attempting burglaries in which suspects pose as utility company workers. The “workers” say they need to come inside the home to assess equipment, discuss bills, or other potential issues with the service. They could also be approaching homeowners offering dent repair to their vehicles or roof work or driveway cement repair.
The stranger may ask the homeowner to go into the kitchen or backyard and turn on a water faucet to test the water line. When the homeowner or resident is somehow distracted by the fake worker, another person will enter the home and take whatever valuables they can find. In the past, such burglars have even managed to take safes bolted to the floor. The suspects may communicate with each other in a foreign language. They often use handheld radios, as opposed to cell phones, to communicate with each other and avoid detection. FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW: • Utility employees or authorized contractors who need access to your home (for repairs or otherwise) typically schedule an appointment in advance. If they claim it's "an emergency," they should be accompanied by Police or Fire Department personnel. • Legitimate employees ALWAYS carry proper identification for your review. Additionally, they are usually properly uniformed and arrive in official, marked company vehicles. However, scammers have been known to wear unofficial safety vests or other equipment. Don't assume - CHECK. SAFETY TIPS: • DO NOT allow these individuals into your home, and DO NOT provide them with your utility bill or other personal information if they ask. • DO NOT leave your home unattended to accompany an individual who shows up without an appointment. • DO call 911 IMMEDIATELY if something seems suspicious. Let law enforcement check them out. If they are who they say they are, law enforcement won't be mad (and neither will they).