Burglars are always finding new tricks and methods when it comes to burglarizing a home. One of the newest and trendiest is the “distraction” burglary. It’s a con game really. Distraction burglary is where a “visitor” comes to your home, tells you some lie to swindle their way into your home, or creates a ruse to distract the victim so an accomplice can slip in, which is the most common method. The most frequent target for these distraction burglaries are the elderly and vulnerable.
Police report that with spring here in bloom, more and more of these crimes will occur. A distraction burglary involves witty manipulation, and if you don’t know the signs, you may fall victim to this type of crime, even if you have burglar alarm in place. Here is some information and tips to help you be aware of someone attempting a distraction burglary.
Quick Fact: Did you know?The average age of a victim of a distraction burglary is 81 years-old.
Here’s how it works:
The whole point of this operation is to distract you enough that it draws you out of your home, while an accomplice that’s unseen by the homeowner sneaks in the back door, or the front depending on the “con.”
For example, the distraction burglar will pose as a roofer, tree trimmer, city worker, or even as an employee of a utility company. Some have even gone as far as posing as someone in distress, such pregnant female having car trouble. Then the “utility worker” distracts the homeowner by walking them outside the residence to show them the “problem,” such as curb that needs painting or future work that needs to be done.
So while the owner is distracted by the “utility worker,” a second accomplice, which is never seen by the homeowner, enters the unlocked home and steals cash, jewelry, or any electronics he/she can get their hands on.
4 popular schemes a distraction burglar will use to lure you out of your home:
I’ve Lost My Dog!In some reported cases the distraction burglar will knock on your door frantically claiming to have lost their dog, or even claiming to have seen it run into your yard. While you’re anxiously helping look for this imaginary dog, an accomplice makes his way into your home taking what he wants while you’re distracted outside.
Bogus EmergencyThis scheme is used more often than others. A “utility worker” will arrive at your doorstep claiming there’s a gas leak or flood in your road and that he has to come in to turn off your supply. While you’re down in the basement, or wherever the burglar needs you to be, his partner swoops in while you’re distracted with the “emergency.”
The Sympathy CardThis tactic has the best chance in getting your distraction. This is more or less like the “I lost my dog” con. A burglar can knock on your door and tell you he desperately needs your help with whatever situation he/she is in. For example, “I’ve broken down, can I please use your phone?” or “I’ve run out of gas, could I borrow some money or a gas can?” Not only are you giving them a chance to burglarize your home, but they're also getting a better look inside your home in the event they are unsuccessful in gaining entry into your home at that very moment.
The Old FriendBurglars will often use the line “I’ve dropped in to see my aunt/friend who lives next door, but she’s out at the moment. Could I borrow a pen and paper to leave a note?” If you’re a good neighbor, 9 times out of 10 you will help this stranger in getting in contact with your neighbor. While the “old friend” is recounting stories of the past, the accomplice is inside of your home helping himself to your valuables.
So what can you do to protect yourself from the “distraction burglar?” 5 tips that will help you prevent the distraction burglary:
- If you’re not sure who the person is behind your door, don’t open it! No one said you're obligated to open the door.
- If the “con” is so convincing, call a neighbor or friend nearby to come along and check the perimeter of your home, or check on the visitor before opening your door.
- If you are successfully lured outside of your home, make sure to lock the door behind you. Most importantly, make sure all entryways leading into your home are locked as well. This includes doors, windows, and the garage.
- If you ever do find yourself in the position where you may have to help someone, refer them to a younger neighbor, or assist them through a window or closed door. You can also call a neighbor or friend nearby to come and help.
- If you’re unsure about the nature of one’s visit, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!
Distraction burglaries are bad enough as it is, but if a burglar is unsuccessful in burglarizing your home at that very moment, he can also case out your home at the same time. Burglars are very cunning and deceptive; they have lots of tricks up their sleeve to sabotage your home security.
Remember, this is your home and you need to protect yourself from all the dangers out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and demand answers. Distraction burglars rely on you being trusting, nice and not the kind of person to offend someone. The distraction burglary can bring an overwhelming result. Victims can lose their peace of mind and confidence, not to mention valuables and possessions. Be wary every time you open the door, and most importantly, be safe!