Pinellas: Be Aware of Distraction Schemes

Detectives assigned to the Burglary and Pawn Unit are investigating a distraction scheme in which a group of individuals are targeting residents in Pinellas County.

The suspects approach residents in their homes, request access to the backyard and as one person is distracting the homeowner, other suspects enter the residence and steal their jewelry and cash.

Five incidents south of SR-60 in Pinellas County have been reported to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office since January 2014.

According to investigators, a group of individuals are targeting residents in Pinellas County. The suspects approach residents in their homes and state they are there to either inspect the sea wall, a water leak, to check property lines or to trim trees in the backyard. The suspects also identify themselves as city employees or utility workers. While they are distracting the homeowner, two to three other suspects then enter the residence and steal items to include jewelry and cash. During the schemes the victims were distracted for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

The Sheriff’s Office is advising homeowners to carefully scrutinize subjects who approach them offering to perform maintenance related services or inspections to their home and to immediately contact the Sheriff’s Office to report any suspicious activity.

If you are approached at your residence by someone identifying themselves as a city employee or utility worker, ask for identification or contact their place of employment to verify their identity. Also be sure to lock all doors and windows that are not in view, if you will be outside of your residence.

The investigation continues.

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