Tempe police warning of burglars targeting elderly residents

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TEMPE - The following is a release from the Tempe Police Department:

In the wake of three recent theft cases where suspects "talked" their way into the homes of three elderly residents, the Tempe Police Department would like to remind members of the public that it is vital they place an emphasis on their personal safety.

On 7/17/09 at approximately 6:30 pm, five suspects rang the doorbell of an elderly couple who reside in the area of Hardy and University, Tempe and referred to the male resident by name.Believing the group of men were employed by a landscape contractor they had used in the past, the male granted them access into the home.While one suspect distracted the couple, the other suspects went room to room stealing items of value.

Similarly, on 7/22/09 at approximately 4:00 pm, three suspects contacted an elderly male at his residence in the area of Priest Drive and Southern Avenue, Tempe, and inquired about his residence which was listed as being "For Sale." The resident granted the suspects access into his home whereupon the suspects began distracting him with requests to use the restroom and for water to drink while the others went room to room stealing items of value.

Finally, on 7/22/09 at approximately 4:30pm, four suspects contacted an elderly resident who resides in the area of Hardy Drive and Broadway Road, Tempe and asked if he wanted to sell his vehicle which was parked in the driveway.Though the victim did not want to sell the vehicle, the suspects were able to "talk" their way into the victim's residence under the ploy of exchanging telephone numbers in the event he wanted to sell the vehicle in the future.While inside the victim's residence, several members of the group distracted him by asking for water and asking to use the restroom while the others went room to room stealing items of value.

Victims have described the suspects as being three to four Hispanic males in their late teens to early twenties accompanied by an older Hispanic male in his forties.The older male has been described as being 5'10" in height, 165 lbs., and was last seen wearing a baseball hat, white shorts, and an unknown colored shirt (it should be noted in the second incident he was described as being in his sixties, approx. 5'4" in height and wearing dark clothing).Likewise, the suspects have been seen traveling in several vehicles which possibly includes a newer model Toyota Camry which is dark brown in color; a dark colored passenger car with chrome rims; and, a newer model Chevy Silverado pickup truck with chrome rims and a temporary registration tag.

In addition to the incidents listed above, it is believed the suspects are responsible for similar crimes in the City of Mesa.As such, detectives from both the Tempe Police Department and the Mesa Police Department are working in partnership and sharing resources and intelligence with each other to identify and apprehend those responsible for these incidents.

The Tempe Police Department would like to remind residents that these types of crimes are preventable and residents should take the precautions necessary to protect their home and loved ones.Some personal safety suggestions include:

  • Not allowing strangers access into your home.
  • Contacting the company a person claims to represent to confirm their identity prior to granting them access into your home.
  • Becoming suspicious if you don't recognize a person who makes contact with you and claims to know you.
  • Keeping points of entry into your home locked at all times (doors, screens, windows, security doors, etc).
  • Contacting the Tempe Police Department if you are not able to verify someone's identity or feel that they are acting suspiciously in your neighborhood.

Rest assured that the Tempe Police Department is aggressively investigating these incidents. If you feel that you have any information related to these crimes which may assist us with our ongoing investigations, please contact the Tempe Police Department at 480-350-8311 or '911' in emergencies.