Monday, August 31, 2015

Tips on preventing 'distraction' burglaries, courtesy New Haven police

New Haven police on Monday took the time to remind residents here and everywhere that: "Thieves will do whatever they can to take what isn’t theirs and there’s a growing trend that people need to know about. ‘Distraction Burglaries’ have been perpetrated in the past but seem to have become a more popular method these days."
"The crime involves a conspiracy and a trusting victim. Here’s how it works; A man approaches a woman who’s gardening in her front yard. He engages her in conversation. Perhaps he claims to be a contractor who could clean her gutters. The two walk around the house to the back yard. He points to the roof line and keeps the unsuspecting woman involved in the bogus inspection. Meanwhile, the home is being ransacked by the man’s associates who’ve easily made it inside through the open front door. Sound familiar? Such a burglary took place this past Spring. Other more common methods are perpetrated by the phony utility worker, census taker, magazine salesman or any number of characters who are experts at making you drop your guard." 
The NHPD urges residents not to be fooled, "These scoundrels most often pray on the elderly but any trusting person is fair game."
Remember: "Good locks, bright lights, active block watches and some common sense can prevent most property crimes."
The following "tips on how to prevent distraction burglaries and scams" is courtesy NHPD spokesman Officer David Hartman (posted as a public service here and unedited).

  • Utility workers rarely need access inside your home. If they do, it’s likely arranged by appointment.
  • Utility workers are most often in uniform.
  • Utility workers always carry company issued photo identification.
  • Utility workers drive company vehicles bearing their logos
  • Never allow someone you don’t know and trust into your home. Call the utility company and/ or Police if you suspect someone to be misrepresenting themselves.
  • If a suspicious person confronts you at your home, don’t open the door. Take a good look at the suspect and report his or her description to Police. Include any vehicle description and direction of travel as well.
  • Notify your neighbors or block watch group of suspicious people in your neighborhood.
  • An increase in reported utility scams nationwide involves callers claiming to represent utility companies, demanding payment for a past-due balance through a prepaid card, and threatening to shut off service if payment is not received.
  • This is an attempt at fraud. Some of the attempts have included emails and phone calls. Our local utility companies discourage all customers from providing personal, confidential information to any unknown party. Please report suspicious calls or other types of contact to the Police or Federal Trade Commission.
  • Never turn over payment in any form to anyone at your home. Utility company associates do not accept payment outside of their offices.


UIL Utility Contact Numbers:
• UI: 800-722-5584 (800-7-CALL-UI).
• SCG: 800-513-8898
• CNG: 860-524-8361
• Berkshire: 800-292-5012


Here are some tips on how to prevent burglaries:

  • Report suspicious people and vehicles to Police and your neighbors
  • Keep doors & windows secured with good quality locks
  • Add window casement locks or locking pin to keep windows ‘cracked’ a bit
  • Secure window air conditioners to the sash and sill
  • Set your burglar alarm – even when you’re at home
  • Keep porch lights on all night
  • Use motion sensors lights for driveways and back yards
  • Trim back trees & shrubbery
  • Never let strangers into your home
  • Demand and verify identification of utility co. associates, poll takers & sales people.
  • Make your home look occupied. Time lights, radios & televisions
  • Avoid hiding keys outside. Give a spare to a trusted friend
  • Never attach personal information to your key ring
  • Arrange for mail pick up if away for more than a few days
  • Maintain a clearly visible house number so emergency personnel can find you
  • Keep valuables in a hidden secure spot or bank safety deposit box
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Report nonworking street lights and tree canopies that are below the lights
  • Engrave property with your phone number. Record serial numbers
  • Don’t ignore audible alarms. Call the Police
  • Keep all firearms out of sight and locked up
  • Don’t leave ladders outside your home


  • Set appropriate privacy settings on social media sites and check them often. If you must post vacation pictures, do so after you’ve returned.


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