The Peoria Police Department recently has taken reports in three different instances where suspects, posing as home buyers, enter mobile homes of people in their 70s and 80s and steal cash and valuables while inside.
The crimes occur in the middle of the day, and the suspects, who range from their 20s to 40s, all claim they are looking for a home for a parent or grandparent, police said Thursday.
A variety of suspects are committing these crimes, suggesting a crew of some sort, according to officials. Vehicles used include an older white pickup and a small, white, four-door Toyota or Nissan passenger car.
In one case, the suspects were a white male and female in their 30s; another case involved three men described as Eastern Indian in their 20s–40s.
“These suspects are obviously targeting mobile home parks with a high concentration of elderly residents, and approach the homeowners — who have their homes for sale — and ask if they can come inside,” Peoria police stated in a release. “Once inside, they split up and distract the homeowner and take cash and jewelry from wallets and jewelry boxes typically left unattended in a bedroom.”
Peoria police advise home sellers to be cautious about “drop-by” buyers, and are encouraging sellers to use an agent to schedule showings, record license plate numbers and take down names from ID cards of prospective buyers.
To date, police said, these have not been violent encounters, and victims have not immediately recognized that anything was taken.
“We are aware that similar cases have occurred elsewhere in the West Valley as well,” the release stated.