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Cerritos Sheriff's Station Issues Alert on Apparent Burglars Posing as City Workers

The scam involves at least two individuals posing as inspectors for the city of Cerritos in an attempt to gain access to the backyard of a home.

The Cerritos Sheriff's Station today warned city residents of an apparent residential burglary scam involving a man and an accomplice posing as uniformed city workers in an attempt to gain access to a resident's backyard.

The reported encounter occurred at 5:45 p.m Tuesday when a man knocked on a resident's door in a tract east of Shoemaker Avenue and south of Artesia Boulevard, claiming he was contracted by the city of Cerritos to check the trees in the backyard of the residence, according to a city-issued alert.

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The man was dressed in a dark blue polo shirt and dark blue pants, which the resident described as a “uniform.” He was also carrying a clipboard, according to the sheriff's station.

When the resident asked the man for documentation from the city to verify his claim and identity, he became aggressive and started to walk to the home's side gate in an attempt to gain access to the rear yard.

The resident adamantly denied him entry and the suspect eventually left in a white van (driven by another person) which had been waiting across the street, according to the sheriff's station.

City Warns: This is a Common Method Used in Residential Burglaries

"This situation is consistent with a common method of committing a residential burglary," a city-issued statement read.

In these cases, the unsuspecting resident usually accompanies the “inspector” to the rear yard while a second suspect enters the home from the front and steals property. Once the “inspection” is completed, the first suspect leaves the residence before the burglary can be discovered.

While, no crimes have been linked to the Sept. 25 encounter at this time, Cerritos Station officials stress the importance of alerting authorities if you come across someone or something you find suspicious.

"Most people, if you request identification and documentation, will have it and generally be very cooperative," Lt. Richard Harpham said. "Always give us a call if you're suspicious, we don't have a problem at all checking on it for you."

Description of Imposter

The main suspect in this case is described as:

  • possibly Hispanic or Eastern European
  • black hair (clean shaven) and brown eyes
  • appears to be in his early 40s 
  • approximately 5’5” and 140 lbs.
  • wore a dark blue polo shirt and dark blue pants -- similar to a uniform

Also important to note: he was spotted leaving the area in a white van being driven by another person.

Reminder to Residents: City Does Not Authorize Such Inspections

In light of this incident, the city issued a reminder to residents that it does not authorize contract personnel to perform such inspections.

In addition to fake tree inspections, scams like this in the past, have also included suspects claiming they were checking for gas leaks or water leaks.

If a resident comes across anyone making a similar claim, he/she is advised to deny them entry and call 911 right away. Residents are also asked to try and obtain as much of a description of the suspects(s) and vehicle(s) involved.

For more information or this incident, contact the Cerritos Sheriff's Station at (562) 860-0044.

mark January 11, 2013 at 10:19 AM
yesterday, this same scam was pulled on my mother in the glendale area. She was convinced to go into her back yard and alley as the man discussed some kind of "city work" that was needed in the alley or her yard. He called someone on his mobile phone while talking with my mother. This was his accomplices ok to enter through the front door where he stole my mothers jewelry box. When she got suspicious and started back to the house, he hung up the phone which was telling his accomplice to get out of the house. I hope they catch these theiving bastards...my mother is really upset that she was conned so easily.

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