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Cranford PD Offers Tips to Avoid "Distraction Burglaries"

Police say thieves may pose as a stranded motorist, an owner looking for a lost pet, or a utility worker.

Cranford Police are warning local residents to be alert to the possibility of distraction burglaries after two elderly homeowners were targeted in the past week.

As a result of the recent incidents, Chief Eric Mason warns local residents to use caution when dealing with any strangers at their home.  He recommended the following security precautions when dealing with strangers at the home:

  • checking identification of utility workers or government officials
  • calling companies or agencies to verify employment
  • scheduling appointments for when residents are not home alone
  • securing valuables, such as wallets or jewelry, before allowing anyone in the home

 “Homeowners need to utilize good judgment and common sense when allowing anyone into their home or when exiting the home to speak with strangers,” Mason stated.  

Residents are urged to keep their homes locked, and to lock doors behind them if they must exit the home to speak with anyone.  

Distraction burglaries are a common crime in many New Jersey communities and frequently victimize area senior citizens.  According to Mason, perpetrators frequently engage a resident or homeowner and attempt to lure them out of the home or away from common area.  

“They may pose as a stranded motorist, an owner looking for a lost pet, or a utility worker,” he said, “but their only purpose is to keep you occupied for as long as possible.”  While a resident is distracted, additional criminals attempt to enter the home and steal any valuables within easy reach.  Often, victims don’t realize a crime has occurred until minutes or hours later.

On February 15, 2013 at approximately 2:00pm, two actors made contact with an elderly female resident of Springfield Avenue, claiming to be roofing contractors.  While a male suspect spoke with the victim, the female was able to steal jewelry from inside the residence valued at over $500.  The resident did not discover the theft until four hours later.

On February 20, 2013 at approximately 11:30am, a male actor lured an elderly Madison Avenue resident to the rear yard to discuss tree work.  While they were outside, a second actor entered the home and stole a gold watch and an undetermined amount of jewelry before being surprised by the victim’s wife.  Both actors fled on foot.

Residents are urged to contact police if they feel anything or anyone is suspicious and may be involved in distraction burglaries.  

Anyone with information on the recent incidents is asked to contact Det. John Swandrak or Det. Ryan Greco at 908-272-2222.  

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