Robbery Prevention 101: When Burglars Pose as Handymen
Previously on this blog, we’ve warned homeowners about the dangers of “door knockers,” which are shady door-to-door salesman (who are basically scam artists dressed as security systems salesman). Well, there’s another trend in home security involving posers that we can all learn from, but this time the consequences are far more severe than annoyance or fraud.
Burglars have been posing as handymen and municipal workers. They do this in order to gain access to the home and secure the trust of homeowners so they can case their properties… and eventually rob them. There are documented cases of this happening all across the country, from New Jersey to Nevada. In order to arm homeowners with valuable information about the dangers of these crimes, we have listed brief summaries of some handyman burglaries that have happened in the past below.
Newark, NJ Men Looking to “Fix a Leak” Rob Elderly Woman
Three men followed an elderly woman back to her residence in Fort Lee, NJ, and devised a plan to find a way into her home. After watching her walk up to her place, one of the men went up and knocked on her door under the premise that he was there to fix a leak, according to NorthJersey.com. The victim (who wished to keep her name out of the story) opened the door and the burglar then grabbed her and forced his way into the apartment.
As a rule of thumb, never open the door for a handyman whom you are not expecting. It’s unfortunate that we have to operate under this lack of trust in society, but it’s the safe way to go about things. After the burglar gained access to her home, he radioed to two friends waiting in the parking lot. They came in and raided the home while the original burglar held the woman hostage and then they made off with her possessions in a pickup truck.
Reno, NV Burglar Preys on Elderly Residents While Offering to do Odd Jobs
A 45-year-old man in Reno, NV would bike around neighborhoods where a lot of elderly people live, posing as a handyman offering to do odd jobs. He would secure the jobs, gain the homeowners’ trust, and then steal checkbooks and personal items from their homes while doing the work, according to SilverPlanet.com. As a security precaution, never leave money or your checkbook lying out in the open while having work done around the house.
The Reno burglar has been arrested 15 times since 2005, many of the arrests have stemmed from cases where he signed contracts to do home construction jobs and then left without finishing after receiving payment. These types of burglars tend to be very charming and it’s important to stay on guard when dealing with a handyman you don’t know.
Indiana Men Pose as Roofers Doing an Inspection to Gain Access to Home
According to WCOE FM in Indiana, two men claiming to be roofers approached a woman about doing an inspection on her roof, only to rob her. The burglars knew that she had some roofing done within the past few years and used just that small bit of information to establish enough trust to gain access to her house. The victim says that one of the men took her into the backyard to “look at the roof” and make sure it was in proper condition, while the other man entered and ransacked the home.
Evesham Township, NJ Burglars Pose as Municipal Workers
According to NJ.com, police said an Evesham Township resident was approached at her home on Friday morning at about 11 a.m. by a white man in a reflective safety vest who told her he worked for the “water department.” The man asked to check her water pressure because a water pipe had broken nearby, but the homeowner refused to let him in. Later on in the day, a female, also wearing a protective vest, made the same attempt to check the homeowner’s water pressure. After this second attempt the homeowner contacted the Municipal Utilities Authority and was told that the two were not real employees.
All homeowners can learn from the Evesham Township woman who denied the burglars entrance to her house and contacted the authorities. By doing this, she saved herself from crime.
The best strategy when hiring handymen or repairmen is to strictly deal with licensed and insured companies. If you don’t know of anyone, check online or ask a trustworthy friend for a recommendation. Never answer the door to a uniformed person if you aren’t expecting a visit, and equip your home with an alarm system in order to further protect your home. It’s advisable to invest in security cameras for your home if you tend to hire handymen and on a frequent basis, this way if something does go wrong, you have some footage to point to.