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Crime Report | Thieves Target the Elderly


A Cautionary Tale from Denver A neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, has been the scene of two door-to-door scam artists preying on elderly residents with home security systems. The suspects, upon seeing a security system sign in the yard of an elderly resident, knocked on the door of two separate victims claiming to be security system employees sent to "test" the alarm systems. Once inside the homes, one suspect pretended to check part of the home alarm system while the other grabbed the victim's wallet and other small items. The two then left in a van. The victims did not realize they had been robbed until after the men were gone. In both cases, the robbers tossed the wallets after taking cash and credit cards, and people who found the wallets returned them to the owners.

Red Flags to Watch For In these incidents, the two men were dressed in black suits. Unfortunately, many people, elderly or not, tend to assume that someone who is wearing a suit, or who is carrying a clipboard or wearing a safety helmet is there on legitimate business, particularly if they mention the name of the security company providing the resident's home security system. However, neither security company had notified the residents that service technicians were being sent. In the second of the two cases, when the resident phoned her security company after the men had left, they confirmed they had not sent technicians out.

If Someone Comes to Your Door

  • One of the cardinal rules of home security is not to open the door to a stranger. You're not being rude, you're just being smart by refusing to open the door to someone who you have not confirmed to have been sent on legitimate business.
  • Have the phone numbers of your home security provider, cable provider, phone and internet providers programmed into your phone, and if someone shows up at your door claiming to be from one of these, call and confirm. Chances are, if the people at your door are up to no good, they'll be gone before your service provider even answers.
  • Don't let anyone into your home without seeing identification and confirming that they were sent there legitimately. If they leave while you're contacting your service providers, call the police and notify them of the suspicious activity.

Speak with Your Security Provider after Installation When you have your security system installed, ask your installation provider if the company ever sends technicians out without notifying customers in advance. If the installation technician does not know, call the security company and ask. Most will tell you that they only send out technicians if you have asked for one; and if they send out a technician, they will call you first to notify you. Also ask what kind of identification their service technicians carry so you'll know what to ask for if someone shows up at your door.

Caution Loved Ones about This Type of Scam Let your loved ones know that these types of scam can happen anywhere, and what they should do if someone shows up at the door unexpectedly. There are some situations where it is OK to come across as rude or off-putting, and this is one of them. Tell your loved ones to always check with their home service providers before letting a technician into their home, unless they have called and asked for a technician to be sent. Even then, they should ask for identification before letting them into the home. It is far better to be safe than sorry, even if it calls for appearing to be less than friendly.