Thieves pose as homebuyers to steal cash, valuables

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Thieves are posing as home buyers to commit robberies in Peoria, according to police.

The suspects are targeting mobile home parks with a high concentration of older residents, according to Jay Davies with the Peoria Police Department.

They approach homeowners who have their homes for sale and ask if they can come inside. Once inside, they split up and distract the homeowner then take cash and jewelry from wallets and jewelry boxes typically left unattended in a bedroom.

Over the past few weeks, Peoria police have responded to three incidents involving victims in their 70s or 80s.

These crimes occurred in the middle of the day and the suspects, who range from their 20s to 40s, all claimed they were looking for a home for a parent or grandparent. 

Davies said a variety of suspects are committing these crimes, suggesting a crew of some sort. In one case, the suspects were a white male and female in their 30s, another case involved three men described as Eastern Indian in their 20s to 40s.

Vehicles used include an older white pickup truck and a small white four-door Toyota or Nissan passenger car.

To date, these have not been violent encounters and victims have not immediately recognized that anything was taken.

Davies said similar cases have occurred elsewhere in the West Valley.

Home sellers should be cautious about "drop-by" buyers and are encouraged to utilize an agent to schedule showings, record license plate numbers, and take down names from ID cards of prospective buyers.