Thursday, December 14, 2006
Don't Be a Victim: Distraction Crime
WSVN -- He's polite, complimentary, and he needs your help. But this man is not shopping for his wife, and he's not alone.
Coral Gables police say this is called a distraction crime. Our victim sets down her purse to look at sunglasses. Note that two men walk into the store behind her. The first man approaches our victim.
Man: "You look just like my wife, could you try on a pair over here?"
He guides her over to the next counter. She thinks she's helping him. But, watch the other man.
Sgt. Michael Frevola, Coral Gables police: "When she got distracted, Officer Jackson took her purse."
After he gets away, the first man makes an excuse to leave.
Man: "How much are those? Because I have to check with her before I buy them."
Our victim turns to continue shopping only to find her purse is gone.
And it's happening in all types of stores.
Frevola: "This is a holiday season for criminals, overall. Sure, absolutely. They wait for this time of year. It's their time of year, as this simple case shows -- working a two man team. I distracted her, and officer Jackson took her purse. It's common."
But the crooks aren't only working stores and malls. They're in your neighborhood, looking for homes advertising they are in the holiday spirit.
Frevola: "You have to remember that if you can see it from the street, everybody can see it from the street."
And nothing says easy money to a criminal more than a well-decorated Christmas tree because they know what's under it.
Frevola: "Be careful about where you put your tree and what you put underneath it, so that you don't advertise what is there."
Instead, police advise homeowners to put their trees where no criminals can see it. If you like displaying it in plain sight, however, hold off on putting presents out until Christmas Eve.
Frevola: "If it's in view of the public, be vigilant about what you put out there."
Although a month of shopping ends in a few seconds of ripping paper, officials say you still have to worry about holiday thieves.
Frevola: "We don't want to tip off anybody that might just be driving around and say, 'Hey, this house has a new this, this house has a new that."
And this time of year, your trash can say a lot about you.
Frevola: "If you've put out a plasma box, a new computer box, a new stereo box a new DVD player box, all you're doing is letting them know."
Instead, police say, tear up those boxes and put them in garbage bags or throw them away gradually. The key is to make sure your house does not stand out as the place to break in.