|Detectives Investigate New Twist On Itinerant Thieves Scams And Offer Crime Prevention Tips
Release Number: 08-276
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Patrol Operations Bureau
-Crime Prevention Unit
Investigative Operations Bureau
Burglary and Pawn Unit
What: Detective assigned to the Sheriff's Office Burglary and Pawn Unit are investigating a new twist on itinerant thieves scams; and offer tips on how to prevent becoming a victim.
The latest scam involved a suspect who identified himself to the victim as a "snake pest control man" who was hired to remove poisonous snakes from the victim's backyard. Two suspects eventually made their way into the victm's home and stole valuables from inside the residence.
Where: The crime occurred at a private residence located in Pasadena.
When: The scam occurred at about 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 24, 2008.
Detective assigned to the Sheriff's Office Burglary and Pawn Unit are investigating a new twist on itinerant thieves scams; and offer tips on how to prevent becoming a victim.
The latest scam involved a suspect who knocked at the victim's door and identified himself to the victim as a "snake pest control man" who was hired to remove poisonous snakes from the victim's backyard. As the two talked, the suspect sprayed the victim's hand with some of the snake poison he was carrying in a spray bottle; and subsequently offered to treat the possible injury with warm water and milk. The first suspect then called a second suspect via walkie talkie. The victim and the two suspects entered the home.
According to detectives, the first suspect assisted the victim in putting her hand in the milk and water and proceeded to remove a ring from her finger. The suspect then told her that he was going to put the ring in the refrigerator and that she needed to keep her hand in the milk solution for ten minutes. This occurred as the second suspect searched the home.
The victim told deputies that the suspects then left the residence before she realized that the ring was not in the refrigerator and that other valuables were missing from the home.
The first suspect is described as a possibly Hispanic male, in his mid to late 30s, 5'6"- 5'9" tall, with an olive complexion and thin to medium build. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt. The second suspect is described only as a tall, possibly Hispanic male with an olive complexion.
This is a single occurrence at this time and serves as a reminder for additional caution and vigilance.
These types of crimes typically occur in Pinellas County during the winter months and often target senior citizens. Detectives say that in these types of scams the suspects use various tactics in order to gain entry into the victim's home. Some of those tactics include, saying they are there to test the water or for gas leaks, to provide rodent abatement and pest control, mold abatement, check for termites, roof repair scams, property lines scams, etc.
The Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit offers the following tips in order to prevent becoming a victim: never open the door for unexpected visitors, never do business with persons who you have not solicited to your home, verify the persons identity by asking for ID, check if there is a vehicle associated with the visitor, and call the Sheriff's Office to report any suspicious activity.
Anyone with information concerning the suspects in the case mentioned above; or any similar type incidents is asked to contact Detective Curtis Skinner or Sergeant Charles Degenhardt of the Sheriff's Office Burglary and Pawn Unit at 727-582-6200 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.