Fake tree trimmers strike again, stealing from elderly residents

Fake tree trimmers strike again, stealing from elderly residents

MENTOR, OH (WOIO) - On Thursday, October 10, 2013, the Mentor Police Department responded to an aggravated burglary at the home of an 81-year old man on Forest Lane.  This is the same residence and victim involved in a distraction type burglary on September 30, 2013.

In the previous incident, a female knocked on the elderly resident's door asking if he needed tree trimming.  She escorted him to his back yard while speaking on a cell phone. A home health aid arrived to find a male in the house.  The male and female then quickly left.

It was later discovered that they had stolen cash and valuable coins from the victim's bedroom.

Today, the same female knocked at the door again. The elderly male did not initially recognize her and allowed her in.  After going to the back patio, he recognized her as the same female involved in the burglary.  She attempted to force him to stay seated in a chair, but he was able to get up and go back into the house.

As he was checking his bedroom, he received a phone call and instructed the caller to call the police.  The female then ran out of the house and left in a gray or silver van.  Nothing was discovered missing.

This is the fourth incident in Mentor within two weeks involving a female offering tree trimming services to elderly residents.  The second incident occurred on October 1, 2013, on Broadmoor Road.  An 82-year old resident was outside when she was approached by a woman.  She walked the resident to the back yard and spent five to ten minutes with her there. The suspect was speaking on a cell phone while in the back yard.

A neighbor saw a male exit the house, and both suspects then left in a van or SUV.  The resident discovered that coins and jewelry were missing from her bedroom.

The third incident happened on October 9, 2013, on Bellflower Road.  A 77-year old woman was outside when an SUV pulled into her driveway.  A female passenger got out and asked her about tree trimming services.  She asked the resident to go into the back yard with her.  The resident told her that her son would be arriving soon.  The female suspect then immediately left in the SUV.

The female has been described as light skinned, race unknown, in her 20's or 30's with long, dark hair and thin build, approximately 5'2" tall.  She and may have an accent when she speaks.  She is also described as having bad teeth.

The male is darker skinned, Caucasian or possibly Hispanic, in his 40's about 5'8" tall with a stocky build.

The two vehicles that have been seen are a white/cream or silver colored newer looking small SUV.  The van that was seen is described as gray or silver with no markings, and it may be a minivan.

The incidents in Mentor closely match several reported in Willoughby, Parma, Parma Heights, and North Royalton in the last few months.  In each case the female suspect spoke to the victim's about tree trimming.

Neighbors should always look out for each other as these suspects are particularly targeting senior citizens. It is also notable that these suspects, as well as many burglars, will steal valuables from the primary bedroom in the house.  It is recommended that any such valuables be kept in a safe, hidden place in your home and not in your bedroom.  If a thief enters a home and is not able to find valuables to steal within a few minutes, they are likely to leave empty handed to avoid being caught.

If anyone sees these suspects or has information regarding these crimes, please contact the Mentor Police Department at 440-974-5760.  If the information requires an immediate police response, dial 911.

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