Distraction burglaries in Torrance target elderly

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(CNS) – Suspects posing as legitimate workers have been targeting elderly homeowners in the west end of Torrance in the last two weeks, police said today.

Claiming to be from electric companies, water departments or cable companies, tree inspectors, city inspectors and the like, the real purpose is to engage the homeowners while accomplices search for currency and jewelry inside the home.

While the suspects are often described as Latino, Indian or Middle Eastern, the suspects who have been arrested are actually of Romanian background. They often drive pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles or vans in an apparent effort to look like government or company vehicles.

Sometimes the male suspects are accompanied by women and children. Women will knock on the door of elderly residents and ask for water for their sick child or to use the restroom, and then steal valuables from the distracted victims’ bedrooms.

In the first robbery on July 23 in the 5200 block of Milne Drive, the two suspects who posed as construction workers and had “strong unknown accents” took cash from the two people in the home who were in their 80s.

In a second robbery on Thursday in the 5200 block of Bindewald Road, the 86-year-old victim was doing yard work in her front yard when suspects approached and asked if a vehicle she had was for sale. They then used the bathroom and searched bedroom drawers, but took nothing.

Suspects knocked on the door of a home in the 19900 block of Hawthorne Boulevard on Sunday and asked the 77-year-old who answered if a camper and older model vehicle were for sale. They then asked to use the bathroom. They took collectible coins from the master bedroom.

Anyone with information about such crimes was asked to call Torrance police at (310) 328-3456.

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