Ruse burglaries are on the rise in many North Shore communities.
Ruse burglaries are crimes in which offenders use a ruse to distract their victim in order to commit a burglary. The offenders generally travel in pairs, allowing one offender to distract the homeowner while the other offender enters the home to search for items or cash to steal, according to information on the Lake County Sheriff’s website.
On January 26, unsuspecting Wilmette residents let several strange men into their house to check their water, after they were told the neighbor’s water was green, according to police reports. The men directed the residents to run the kitchen faucet, as well as one in the basement. After the men had left, the residents noticed that cash had been stolen from a bedroom and reported it to the police.
Earlier on January 20, a Wilmette resident reported an attempted ruse burglary. A strange man told the resident there was a hole in her garage roof, and tried to get her to come out and take a look at it. The resident refused and contacted the police. On February 1, the Wilmette Police Department issued a safety alert.
The Northfield Police Department also issued a community safety alert earlier in January, following at least four attempted ruse burglaries in the village, the Chicago Tribune reported.
While Winnetka has had no reported ruse burglaries as of late, a suspicious incident prompted the police department to post information about ruse burglaries in the area on social media, Deputy Marc Hornstein, told DailyNorthShore.
The Winnetka Police Department advises that if someone knocks on your door, don’t open it unless you know your visitor. Check through a door viewer or window to see the person, and ask who they are and what they want, and ask for identification to see if they are a legitimate utility worker or contractor. The police advise never opening the door if the person does not provide identification.
According to the Lake County Sheriff, ruse burglars often target seniors and people living alone. Common story lines include repairing pavers or driveways, inquiries about water supply or pressure, repair of gutters fences or tree trimming, and questions about a homeowner’s property lines.