In the wake of a spate of thefts in homes targeting senior citizens, the Mesa and Tempe police departments warned residents Monday to be wary of allowing strangers into their homes.
Three recent thefts inside the homes of elderly residents in Tempe happened after the suspects "talked their way into the homes," according to authorities.
In the first incident, on July 17, five men rang the doorbell of an elderly couple near Hardy and University drives in Tempe and convinced the homeowners that they were part of a landscape contractor the couple had used in the past, police said. While one of the suspects distracted the couple, the other men stole valuables from the home.
Two similar thefts in the homes of seniors in Tempe took place on July 22.
Police officials in Mesa said similar incidents have occurred. No details were immediately available about the incidents in Mesa, or how many cases were being investigated.
According to police reports, the victims described the suspects as three to four Hispanic males in their late teens to early 20s, accompanied by an older Hispanic male in his 40s. The older male has been described as 5 feet 10 inches and 165 pounds, and was last seen wearing a baseball hat and white shorts. In another case, the older male was described as being in his 60s, about 5 feet 4 inches and wearing dark clothing, police said.
In each case, the suspects have been seen traveling in several vehicles, which possibly include a newer model, dark brown Toyota Camry; a dark-colored passenger car with chrome rims; and a newer model Chevy Silverado pickup truck with chrome rims and a temporary registration tag, authorities said.
Mesa and Tempe police announced that they would be working jointly to apprehend the suspects. The departments offered the following tips for personal safety:
- Don't allow strangers into your home.
- Contact the company that people claim to represent to confirm their identity before allowing them into your home.
- Be suspicious if you don't recognize a person who makes contact with you and claims to know you.
- Keep points of entry into your home locked at all times (doors, screens, windows, security doors, etc).
- Contact the police if you are not able to verify someone's identity or feel that they are acting suspiciously in your neighborhood.
Anyone with information related to the crimes should contact the Tempe Police Department at (480) 350-8311 or Mesa Police Department at (480) 644-2211.