Police warn of “distraction burglaries” in Arcadia

ARCADIA — Police cautioned the public this week to be ware of “residential distraction burglars” targeting primarily elderly victims for theft by pretending to represent government agencies or contractors.
At least two such crimes have been reported in recent weeks, Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said. One targeted an elderly Arcadia man, and the other targeted a real estate agent who was holding an open house to sell a home.
A similar trend of crime was reported in the earlier this year, the sergeant said, though “residential distraction burglaries,” — as police call them — appeared to have subsided until recently.
“These crimes occur during day time hours and focus on elderly victims,” Arcadia police said in a written statement. Once the suspect gains the victim’s trust and confidence, the suspect is allowed inside and occupies the victim. A second suspect then enters the residence and commits the theft.”
The victim often is not aware anything has been stolen until after the burglars have left.
“The suspects in these incidents are commonly referred to by the victims as ‘Gypsy’ type individuals, or ‘Travelers,’” according to the police statement.
An 85-year-old man received a knock at his door in the 300 block of Joyce Avenue on Oct. 19 and found a woman described as white, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, 140 pounds, with long hair, wearing a white shirt and a dark skirt, the sergeant said.
“She told the resident she was from a tree trimming company and lured the 85 year old victim into the back yard to explain the tree trimming process,” Le Veque said.
As the woman distracted the elderly resident for about half an hour, he said, another unseen burglar, or burglars, went into the home and stole an undisclosed amount of cash.
The crime was similar in nature to others reported on the southeast portion of Arcadia at the beginning of the year, though a definite link has not been established, Le Veque added.
A trio of burglars used another distraction ruse Sunday to steal jewelry from a home that was occupied by a real estate agent hosting an open house in the 1400 block of Rodeo Road, police said.
The agent, a man in his 50s, was approached by a man who identified himself as “Danny John” and claimed to be interested in buying the house, Le Veque said.
“He immediately asked the real estate agent if he could see the back yard and the pool,” he said.
The real estate agent heard a noise coming from inside the house, went back in, and spotted two men exiting the front door, officials said. It was later discovered that jewelry was missing from the house.
The three burglars were described by police only as olive-complected men in their late 30s.
Police advised vigilance on the part of residents to avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam.
“Don’t allow anybody into your house that you don’t know,” Le Veque said. If someone claims to represent an officials agency, “Verify who they are. If they say they’re from the city or a power company, they’re usually going to have a marked vehicle with them.”
If there’s doubt whether a visitor is legitimate, he added, “Close the door and tell them to wait, and call the company or call the police and verify that they’re supposed to be there.”
Anyone who encounters possible distraction burglars is asked to call Arcadia police or 9-1-1. Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Arcadia police detectives at 626-574-5160.

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