Every spring and summer in Central Virginia, we see a significant rise in burglaries perpetrated by means of “Traveler” scams.The term “Travelers” refer to people who travel in small groups across the country perpetrating crimes of theft, burglary, and fraud. Regardless of the term(s) used to describe these individuals, they are simply organized criminal groups who are looking to victimize and steal.
Suspects have many different ruses to accomplish their goal. Typically they pose as utility company employees, home repair contractors, and salespeople in order to gain entry into a home. They do this by means of a bogus sales pitch or other misrepresentation. Another approach that is taken is to locate a victim outside of their home and keep their attention diverted. Once the diversion is set in either scenario, accomplices will enter the house to search for and steal money, jewelry, and prescription medications.
These scams occur in daylight hours and the elderly are often the targets, but anyone can be a victim in these schemes. These predators exploit people's trust and compassion and have very convincing cover stories. The suspects are usually males who operate in groups of two to five people, but these groups can include females.
What You Can Do
The best way to keep these individuals from victimizing you is to simply keep your home locked, even when you are working in the yard.
Don’t allow unsolicited workers or sales people into your home.
If you observe suspicious persons in your area, or suspect something just isn't right, then call the police. Look closely at suspicious persons so you can later provide officers with a description of them. Obtain vehicle license numbers and as many other details as you can.
Educate elderly family members on how to identify these scams to prevent them from occurring and what they should do if they do occur. If they do become a victim, don’t blame them.