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Scammers use distraction technique to steal from elderly Clearwater woman

CLEARWATER — Police say one man distracted a 90-year-old woman so another person could sneak into her home and burglarize it.

According to Clearwater police, a man came to the woman's home in the 1700 block of Starlight Drive around 4:15 p.m. Saturday and offered to trim some shrubbery for free.

While the man kept the woman occupied, a second person somehow got into the home, went into the woman's bedroom and stole jewelry and cash with a total value of more than $1,000, police said.

"It's one of the oldest scams in the book," said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts. "You have one person who distracts the individual, and the other person slips in unnoticed."

The woman did not see the second person, but told investigators the man who came to her door never left her sight. She called police when she discovered the theft a day later.

It's unclear how the other person entered the home, but it may have been through an unlocked side door, Watts said.

The man who offered the landscaping services was described as Hispanic with a "clean-cut" appearance, about 5 feet 6 and 150 pounds. The woman noted he had a slight accent and she said he was wearing a white, button-down shirt with light blue jeans and a gray baseball cap. He was driving a silver minivan, police said.

Watts said residents should always be wary of any stranger who tries to enter a home, especially if there are two people trying to gain entrance. Police also suggested residents keep other doors locked so a thief doesn't have access at one entrance while the resident is busy at another.

Scammers use distraction technique to steal from elderly Clearwater woman 09/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:04pm]
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