The Village police department has issued a warning to residents to be aware that there has been a rash of distraction burglaries in recent weeks that all bear the same method of operation, a routine that is commonly referred to in law enforcement circles as a “gypsy burglary”.
Pinecrest Police Detective Sgt. Jason Cohen says Coral Gables has also seen an increase in these types of crimes and that Village police are working to determine if the same criminals are operating in both communities.
Cohen says that three distraction burglary incidents have been reported to Village police in the last three weeks, each involving a man who tells a homeowner that he is from a landscaping company and his men will be cutting adjacent overhanging trees for a neighbor. The man asks the homeowner to come to the rear of the house to see where he will be working.
Cohen says the unsuspecting resident accompanies the man to the work area and usually leaves the front door unlocked, allowing a second man to slip into the house and steal various items of value. The two criminals communicate via cell phone and the first man keeps the victim occupied until the crime is complete. Often, the homeowner is not aware that he has been robbed until hours or even days later.
“The accomplice goes into the house and takes whatever he can find that’s easy to carry,” says Cohen. “Usually cash or jewelry, but we have reports of silverware being taken, and silver coins or coin collections.”
Cohen says the victims are usually elderly and that this is a typical type of theft used by roving gypsies; thus the reason that it is known as a Gypsy Burglary.
“Discovering this type of crime in progress is very difficult because there will be no alarm call and the actions of the thief to someone driving by do not look out of the ordinary,” says Cohen. “The best deterrent is to educate the public.”
Cohen adds that Village residents should be diligent about this type of burglary and be alert to the fact that if they didn’t call for a particular service, then they should not venture outside their home with someone they do not know.
Cohen says residents witnessing any crimes resembling a distraction burglary or “gypsy burglary” should immediately report them to the detective bureau of the Pinecrest Police Department by calling 305-234-2100.