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  • Deception burglaries/home improvement schemes

    Home improvement schemes and deception burglaries have become an increasing problem in my area. As far as home improvement schemes it's very difficult to handle. Work is exchanged for a money, the work is very poor quailty sometimes never finished, many times this is civil in nature. Deception burglaries however are criminal in nature. The Victims of these crimes are almost alway's the elderly. Any idea's on 1. handeling these types of crime. 2. Warning the general public.
    The dept. I work for has a unit of about four people working these types of crimes (in intell), that's not enough so patrol handles most of them.
    thoughts?

  • #2
    Do you have a neighborhood watch in your area. If you do then bring it up at the meetings. If not, make up some flyers and hand them out to elderly people. Churches are generally a good place to go as are sewing stores. If you can get your local ministers on board with you to get this info out then you'll go a long way toward stemming the tide of these bandits.
    "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

    For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

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    • #3
      Deception burglaries/rogue builders are a huge problem in my area. As you say, the targets are invariably elderly and huge numbers of these crimes go unreported either because the victims are embarrassed, frightened or simply don't realise they are victims of crime.

      The most effective tactics are the obvious ones. Swamp the area with units as soon as offences of this kind are reported because there is a good chance they will hit several properties before moving on. Ensure you get as detailed a crime report as possible as quickly as possible (we have an excellent 15-20 page pro forma report). We also have a dedicated unit which deals exclusively with deception burglaries (rogue traders are also dealt with by local authority investigators).

      As for prevention. Target hardening in the form of home security advice and free installation of locks. Stickers on doors reminding potential victims to check ID's. Stuff like that.
      I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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      • #4
        Thanks Cockney. Since this is a growing problem and its new to patrol your info. is quite welcomed. I signed up for a class on transient crime, but never know if the Sgt. will approve it. Detailed reports are a must and home security checks (that's what we call them) are preventitive. More units in the area has helped the problem, but it usually just moves it to the next neighborhood. Thanks again.
        Pk. chuches seem like a pretty good idea as well.
        Thanks

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        • #5
          We have had a handful of people who have done the home improvement scams with older people. Normally we hit them with obtaining money by false pretenses, and working without a contractor's license. The false pretenses can be extended to cover issues that would normally be considered civil because of the deception involved. The contractor's license charge is usually just icing on the cake.

          The most difficult part of these cases (I have found) is that most of the victims are older and have difficulty recalling facts. We had one guy who had been doing these all over town and surrounding areas for years. His victims were terrible witnesses and the cases were always thrown. I lucked out by getting a very nice lady who kept immaculate records. He took her for over 6k. I hit him with 14 counts of felony obtaining money by false pretenses and a couple of contractor's fraud, no license, etc. He took a plea and finally got 30 with 7 to serve. A condition of his suspended sentence was that he is no longer permitted to conduct contracting work in the state and that he has to repay the money.

          Another option if you are having difficulty prosecuting is to find a judge who you can talk to and get an injunction prohibiting the person from conducting business within your jurisdiction due to the suspicous nature of his activities, etc.

          You may also want to contact the local press and see if they can do a story on elder fraud and list some contact numbers that the people can call if they are approached. Also some outreach to some churches and activity centers for the elderly.

          Good luck.

          -web
          "there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

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          • #6
            Originally posted by webjeep
            Another option if you are having difficulty prosecuting is to find a judge who you can talk to and get an injunction prohibiting the person from conducting business within your jurisdiction due to the suspicous nature of his activities, etc.
            Thanks for the advice. We are having a hard time prosecuting Not the judges fault though. I don't know of any laws in Md. similar to what you said, but like I said this is new to us so they may be on the books and we just don't know about them. I will look into that. As for speaking with a judge that is a great idea. I personally haven't been to court on this issue yet 10/24/05 is my first (I think thats the date), but thats a deception burglary. I know most of us don't charge for home improvement scams as you said no records, memory problems etc. Most just say sorry but this is civil. Thanks again

            And of course the folks from intell are impossible to get in contact with

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