Spring has sprung, and with the change of seasons comes the changing face of neighborhood crime.
The winter thaw brings out a certain criminal element. It is not just your tulips that will be showing up in your yard.
Spring time is prime time for spring scams.
A variety of scam artists appear in the spring and police say you should be on guard.
Sgt. Patrick Hechlinksi, SBPD Crime Prevention Specialist, says, “I think the biggest one is going to be you home improvement scam, and that's generally when you got guys coming around, they target some of the elderly. They'll come out and say ‘Well, your flashing needs repair. If you want to come out and take a walk with us behind the house and look at it, we'll be glad to show you what we're talking about.’ What could happen is that they could go around the house, and somebody else they left in the vehicle can waltz in that front door and maybe take a wallet, some money, get back in the truck, and by the time they come back around to the front, they're in and out."
Often times, the victims do not realize they have been ripped off for hours, even days.
Other scams involve home repairs that never get finished, or even started.
“We're going to come back tomorrow. We're going to be in the neighborhood, we're going to do this project for you. If you give us a $250 deposit now, we'll be back tomorrow, and they don't show up.”
Hechlinski says some will even have a dummy work order.
If there is an address and phone number on there, it is likely fake.
“The best advice, for these guys just to walk up and knock on your door, you've got a problem: don't fall for it. Make your own calls to a reputable company, have them send a rep out, get your estimates that way and have those people do the work.”
If you're out working in your yard, make sure you don't get too caught up in your spring cleaning.
“Burglaries to garages will be big when spring hits because people are going to be getting ready to mow their lawns. So, people are out in the yard, maybe they're raking up the leaves they didn't get from the fall, they leave their garage door open, they live on an alley. Somebody might walk up and take some yard equipment and take off with that.”
Hechlinski says a similar thing happens in the fall when thieves start stealing things like snow blowers.
Never leave a garage door opened or unlocked if it's not in your sights.
Now, if the person is someone you know, like a neighborhood kid, you should be okay.
However, Hechlinski says if it is a stranger, go with your gut.
A lot of times, these people are casing your house.
Keep your outside door locked when talking to them, and if you feel they may be up to no good, don't be afraid to call police.