If some kind of service person shows up at your door-tree trimmer, roofer, alarm company rep, sewer man, water man, this man, that man...THINK FIRST.
Service personnel from reputable companies don't just show up unannounced at your door seeking out your business. A tree man showed up out of the blue to a 70-something woman's home recently in Delaware. He claimed to be cutting trees for a neighbor and wanted the woman to step outside and discuss her tree line.
The woman didn't lock the door behind her and went outside with the unsolicited stranger. He then left. The next day, she discovered her jewelry was missing. She told police she did not see anybody else with the man.
However, it's highly likely he was a crook, and his accomplice was hiding somewhere, waiting for his chance to slip into the woman's house. It's possible this duo tried a few dozen times to pull off this stunt before finding this home occupant.
You can see how easy it is to pull off a crime like this: a crime of distraction, which may have initially come in the form of flattery-complimenting on the woman's yard and trees, then offering a discount for some trimming since the guy was (allegedly) cutting a neighbor's trees.
Sometimes the bogus tradesman talks his way inside the house, and steals things while he's there after asking the occupant to fetch him a glass of water. Or, he asks to use the bathroom, and once in there, unlocks the window and screen to create an entry point for a near-future burglary.
Prevention of Distraction Burglaries
- Never feel you must jump up to answer the door every time someone's there. If you're not expecting anyone, let the doorbell ring or ignore the knocking.
- Even if the visitor is legitimate, it's a good bet they aren't offering something that you desperately need or aren't a representative of your grandfather's brother's estate there to inform you you've just inherited half a million dollars.
- You've heard of "Just do it," right? Well, how about "Just don't do it"? Just don't answer the door, especially if you live alone and have a lot of valuables.
- Whenever you leave your house, lock the door, even if you'll be back in a minute.
- Be very suspect of home security system salespeople. Lots of scammers out there.