Dark-colored Mini-van, Two Male/Hispanics Suspects in Senior Scam

Arlington Heights police received a report about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday that two male/Hispanic offenders approached a resident who was standing in his open garage in the 1400 block of West Hawthorne in Arlington Heights. Offenders claimed to be related to a contractor that had previously done work on the roof and had observed some damage that needed repairs. The victim explained that he was not interested. The offender then asked to borrow a pen and paper, as well as a bucket of hot water. The victim walked into the house to get the water and one offender followed him inside. When the victim asked the offender to leave, he observed the second offender running from the house and enter a dark-colored mini-van with no license plates. Both offenders eventually were last seen westbound on Hawthorne.

The resident then discovered that the offenders removed a valuable diamond/gold ring from a bedroom. A 14-carat yellow gold diamond ring valued at $11,000 was taken from the bedroom.

A similar scam and theft occurred in Mount Prospect at about 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday January 5, 2010. A safe containing certificates of deposit, savings bonds, coins and personal papers valued at $33,000 was taken from a home on the 500 block of Na Wa Ta Avenue in Mount Prospect. The Mount Prospect offenders fled in a black car.

Arlington Heights police received a call Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. — just over two hours before the senior scam on Hawthorne — of a suspicious black van with at least two occupants in the 1100 block of South Highland Avenue. the van was reported making several passes in the neighborhood and did not have any license plates.

And on Monday about 1:45 p.m. an elderly woman got a knock on her door from a man in the 1100 block of South Highland Avenue who said he worked for public works and that he needed to read a meter. He said there was a charge of $40 to read the meter, and the woman paid the offender $40. The offender left in a black SUV. The woman’s son called Arlington Heights Public Works Department and the public works department reported the incident to the Arlington Heights Police Department.

An increase of reports of suspicious letters via U.S. Mail from out-of-state or out-of-country senders had also been reported. The exact nature and content of the letters is unknown at this time.

The Filling Buckets with Water Scam
Filling buckets with water is one of several tactics used by scam artists targeting seniors across the United States. Not only is it an excuse to enter the house in the first place, but the noise from the running water helps cover the sounds of the accomplice working the theft in other rooms.

Similar ruses involve offenders acting as tree trimmers, inspectors, cable television workers, public works or ‘public service’ crews. They may even carry portable radios and fake identification.

Four of these type of crimes occurred in a one month period December 2007 to January 2008 in Oak Lawn. One scam involved the offenders telling a resident that a neighbor had water in his basement and that he would need to dig a hole. While one offender had the resident listening to the ‘hole digging story’ the other offender entered the home and stole $3,000 cash.

The use of a cell phone or portable radio makes it easy for the offender speaking with the victim to communicate with the other offender to tell them when it is time to ‘get out of Dodge.’

See also …
The Cardinal Suspicious Black Van on South Highland

The Reporter Online Police Warn of Gypsy Scams