Jan. 24, 2019 – The Oak Park Police Department is on the lookout for suspicious pickup trucks that may be driven by suspects dressed in work clothes who are running a common repair scam and burglary ruse.
Eight times since September, residents have reported a man or group of men knocking on doors warning residents about much-needed repairs that were spotted while passing by or doing other work in the neighborhood.
On four occasions the men entered the home under false premises such as checking the ceilings for cracks or inspecting the windows, twice stealing money while the homeowner was distracted. On three other occasions, the men pretended to make a repair and then demanded an exorbitant payment.
In one instance, the suspect claimed to be a Village employee, while in another he claimed to be from a construction company working in the area.
“This is an old scam and the elderly are especially vulnerable,” said Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds. “These con men and thieves often case the neighborhoods to identify individuals they think might be easy prey. The best defense is to just not open the door to a stranger.”
At least one of the cases involved a gray GMC pick-up truck with an extended cab and equipment in the bed. The suspect who knocked on the door was described as a heavyset, white or Hispanic man wearing work clothing.
Police say all of the cases have not been connected by a specific vehicle or description of suspects, suggesting that more than one scammer may be on the streets. What the incidents have in common is that they took place in the afternoon at various locations in the Village.
The Police Department recommends residents take the following precautions:
- If someone knocks on the door and asks you to step out of your home for any reason, try to lock all doors before exiting and take a key with you.
- If you receive an unexpected visit from someone claiming to be an employee of the Village or a utility company who wants to enter your home, ask to see official identification. Village ID cards feature the employee’s photo, name and the Village logo on the front.
- Do not allow transient workers to perform repair work on the spot without providing a business card and allowing you to check on the reputation of the business.
- Avoid being the victim of a scam by being wary of anyone who visits your home without an appointment offering to do home repairs on the spot.
- If you are in doubt or feel threatened, lock your door and call 911.
In addition to the ongoing burglary ruse, Police also encourage residents to be aware of other scams that involve the following:
- Telephone calls from individuals pretending to be relatives requesting money
- Unexpected visitors inquiring about the homeowner’s water pressure
- Unexpected visitors claiming there is an electrical problem in the area that requires entering the home
- Solicitors who offer to repair gutters and fences or perform tree trimming or landscaping
- Unexpected solicitors offering to perform driveway or blacktop repair on the spot
- Unexpected visitors claiming there is a problem at a neighbor’s house
- Unexpected visitors asking about homes for sale in the neighborhood
For more information, contact the Oak Park Police Department at 708.386.3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find additional crime prevention tips from the Oak Park Police Depatment at www.oak-park.us/crimepreventiontips.