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Elderly Targeted in Burglary Scam

Gwinnett and Walton law enforcement officials caution residents against allowing strangers to have any access to their homes even if they claim to be there for a legitimate reason.

Police are warning citizens about a home burglary scam in which the suspects either act like they know the victims or pretend that they are at the residence to work.

At the February TRIAD meeting in Loganville, Chief Deputy Bruce Wright and  Chief Mike McHugh warned local seniors to be on the lookout for similar type scams.

"We know seniors are the easiest people to scam," Wright said. "If something doesn't look right, call a neighbor, call one of your children or call 911."

"We would rather you call 911 and come out to find it was something legitimate than have you not call," McHugh added.

In Gwinnett, two such cases were reported recently in Lilburn, Cpl. Jake Smith said in an email. In both, the suspects used the same mode of operation, pretending they were there to work.

"In each case a Hispanic male lured the victim to the back of the home to inspect the property line," according to the email. "The suspect spoke on a walkie-talkie in Spanish to an unknown person while with the victims. The victims later reported that they were missing jewelry and cash."

The suspects appear to target elderly, white females.

One suspect described in an earlier case was Hispanic, about 5-foot-7, 175 to 185 pounds. He has a light skin tone and was reported to be clean shaven. In one incident, he claimed to be there to work on a fence. He was reported to be wearing blue jeans, a white, long-sleeve crewneck shirt and a white baseball cap. He spoke on a walkie-talkie in English and Spanish. The vehicle was described as a champagne-colored Ford F150.

Another suspect sought is a white male, 6- to 6-foot-3 inches tall, with an average build and blue eyes. He has identified himself in at least one case as "Michael Thompson." In that case, he claimed to be a former newspaper delivery man for the victim. The suspect was in a copper-colored, older-model vehicle (unknown if a car or truck).

The suspects have also been seen driving a white pickup of unknown model and make.

Two similar cases were reported recently in the Peachtree Corners and Norcross areas. In one, a white male suspect knocked on the door of a house and pretended to know the elderly female resident, using her name and even hugging her. The woman sensed he was trying to gain entry and told the man that her husband was at home. The suspect left quickly.

In the other case, a Hispanic male rang at the garage door and said he was there to install a fence, saying he had left a note a few days earlier. The victim spent some time in the back yard with the suspect, who was using a walkie-talkie. "The last time he spoke on the walkie-talkie, he spoke in Spanish, then quickly walked to the front of the home," the email said.

He drove away in a champagne-colored (or possibly light green) Ford F150.

"The victim later discovered that several pieces of her jewelry had been stolen while she was outside with the suspect," the email said.

Anyone who may have encountered the suspects, or who may have been scammed by them but not reported it, is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300.

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