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Police warn seniors of home repair scammers

November 15, 2010

By BRIAN HAWKINS
sdneditor@bellsouth.net

Starkville Police Department detectives are urging local senior citizens to be wary of so-called home repairmen who are going door-to-door to solicit work.
The warning comes in the wake of an incident earlier this month in which a 79-year-old woman saw her wallet taken from her purse by two men posing as home repair contractors, said SPD Detective William Durr on Monday.
The incident occurred around midday Nov. 1 at the woman’s home on Canal Street, Durr said.
Two men — one about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and the other a bit taller — pulled up to the woman’s home in a Chevrolet Silverado pickup — got out and were seen apparently measuring a section of the woman’s home. No other description of the two suspects was provided to police.
They knocked on the woman’s door, claiming to have come to the house to do repair work, Durr said.
The woman let them in the house, and while one of the men distracted her, the other went and found her purse, removing her wallet, which did contain money and several important cards, Durr said.
The two then left her home, and it was some time later that the woman discovered her wallet missing from her purse, Durr said.
“Unfortunately, this type of incident is not uncommon. This is a common con that many elderly people often fall for,” said Durr, who noted that no other incidents had been reported since the initial report.
Residents — particularly senior citizens — should be suspicious if they know they have not contacted anyone about doing repair work on their homes, Durr said.
If a contractor is legitimate, they will be licensed and be carrying proper identification, he said.
“Always ask to see a license or ID,” Durr said. “People should be wary of anyone going door-to-door offering to do home repairs.”
Though the suspects in the Nov. 1 incident will only face a petit larceny charge, which is a misdemeanor, there is the possibility that another incident could be a felony, depending on the monetary value of any items taken or any money paid to a false contractor, Durr said.
Anyone with information about any similar home repair scams should contact the Police Department at 323-4131 or any other local law enforcement agency.

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