Pinellas County deputies are warning residents to not let their guard down. Detectives are investigating five cases, where criminals pose as city workers or contractors, such as tree trimmers. They convince residents to follow them to their backyard. While in the backyard, the crooks' accomplices enter the unlocked front door and help themselves to the victim's valuables.
"Take what items, such as cash, jewelry, leave the residence, and then the initial first suspect would then leave the residence as well." Said Cristen Rensel, a spokesperson for the agency. Rensel says in four of the cases the victims were elderly, but that doesn't mean others aren't being targeted as well.
"The majority of people who are home during the day, would be elderly residents. But that doesn't mean that they won't target anyone else that's willing to open their door, walk outside with them, leave their front door, side door or garage door open," said Rensel.
She says residents should keep their guard up, while these crooks are still out there.
"Everyone thinks, this is never going to happen to me." Said Rensel. "And then, it does. So even taking the extra few seconds to lock your doors when you're outside, even if you're going outside to mow the backyard. Lock your front doors, because it's not in your view, and you don't know who could enter your home "
Investigators released a picture of one of the vehicles the suspects were spotted in, but that's about the only solid lead they have.
Anyone with any information on these suspects can contact Detective Ken Roberts of the Burglary and Pawn Unit at 1-727-582-6200 or to remain anonymous and eligible for a cash reward, contact Crime Stoppers of Pinellas at 1-800-873-TIPS, OR www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org