News Details

The Reality of Distraction Burglaries

Neighborhood Watch

What would you do if someone claimed to be from a utility company checking on “pipes” in the area and needed to gain access into your home or your backyard? If you were asked this question, without a doubt, your answer would be to not let the individual enter your home until they presented proper identification.

What would you do if someone claimed to be from a utility company checking on “pipes” in the area and needed to gain access into your home or your backyard? If you were asked this question, without a doubt, your answer would be to not let the individual enter your home until they presented proper identification.

However, if that same scenario presented itself on your doorstep and the individual was very persuasive, some of you would allow the person or persons into your home. It might not even be someone posing as the water department; it could be someone needing help, a stalled motorist asking to use your phone, a pregnant woman or child asking for a drink of water or to use your restroom.

Whatever the ploy, remember to always ask questions and to never let anyone into your home or yard without confirming their identity and purpose.

The reality of distraction burglaries is that they can be prevented by being alert to your surroundings. Many victims of distraction burglaries have claimed that they had seen the individuals in their neighborhood the day before, or they looked like they had official business, or nothing appeared to be out of the norm. There are a variety of ways of how this crime takes place, but the end result is the same -- gaining entry into your home to commit the burglary while you’re distracted. The stories that are given are very plausible and persuasive. Thieves typically target single occupant homes or elderly residents. But anyone can fall victim when their guard is down.

Follow these tips to help prevent becoming a victim of a distraction burglary:

  • Do not open your door until you are sure of the person’s identity and purpose.
  • Utility companies rarely come out without an appointment. If the person says it’s an emergency, verify it with the utility company. Locate the phone number in the phone book or on the internet. Do not use any numbers given by the individual; they may be connected to an accomplice.
  • If the individual claims that they need to use your phone due to an emergency, offer to make the call for them. It is rare and unusual for someone to be without a cell phone.

The below are the service companies that service the City of Lakewood:

  • Southern California Edison 800-409-2365
  • The Gas Company 800-427-2200
  • Verizon 800-483-3000
  • AT&T 800-310-2355
  • Time Warner Cable 888-892-2253
  • EDCO Disposal 562-531-3054
  • Lakewood Water Department 562-866-9771, ext 2700
  • Golden State Water Company 800-999-4033

The most important thing to remember is that only you know what is out of the ordinary for your neighborhood. If you observe individuals knocking on doors or peeping over backyards, contact the Sheriff’s Department at 562-623-3500.