Polk deputies: Watch out for "distraction burglaries"

- Polk County deputies are warning the public to be wary of neighborhood solicitors who may be trying to steal from them.

These so-called "distraction burglaries" are still happening.  One such incident was at a home on North Combee Road in Lakeland on June 21st.

Deputies say the homeowner was lured outside by an unknown Hispanic male to talk about repairs to the victim's roof. The suspect was holding a handheld radio, with which he used to tell two other people - a Hispanic male and female - that the coast was clear.

While the first suspect kept the victim distracted outside, the other two suspects went into the house & stole thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry. The suspects were in a white, newer model Dodge Durango like the one pictured above.

Another distraction burglary happened on June 23rd on Country Oaks Blvd in Lake Wales.  That case was very similar to the incident in Lakeland - but the suspect instead inquired about trimming the victim's trees.

Deputies say if an unknown person knocks on your door, regardless of how they're dressed or what business they say they're representing, don't go outside. Talk with them through the door, and ask for credentials. Call the business to verify their employment.

Even if the person is a legitimate business representative - deputies say you should not walk outside and leave the house unlocked.

Those with elderly relatives who may not be aware of this crime trend should educate them. The elderly are particularly susceptible to crimes like this one.

If this happens to you or a neighbor - deputies want to hear about it.  Call 911 in an emergency, or 863-298-6200 to reach the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

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