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News Release

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Media Relations

Beware: Door-to-Door Solicitors near Elysian Park NR10263pv

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles police have issued a community alert for the residents of Chinatown and the neighborhoods around Elysian Park.  The alert warns of two men, posing as telephone salesmen or repairmen, who gain homeowner’s confidence to enter the home and steal money.

“This appears to be a new crew of con artists, but their MO is not new,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the detective division for downtown Los Angeles.  “They seem to take advantage of elderly residents and persons with limited English ability.”

On May 10, 2010, two men, one White and the other Hispanic, called at the door of a 92-year-old Chinese woman’s apartment in the 400 block of Cottage Home Street, just north of Chinatown.  The White man spoke with an East Coast accent and convinced the elderly woman and her adult niece that the men were with a telephone service, and they had a work order for the home.  Once inside, one suspect distracted the women, while the other searched the apartment for valuables.  After the duo left, the women discovered $2,000 in cash missing from a dresser drawer.

Both suspects are just under 6-feet tall.  The White suspect spoke with an East Coast accent and weighed about 200 pounds.   The Hispanic suspect was slightly shorter and weighed 300 pounds.

Police remind residents to be leery of solicitors calling on the telephone or at their door, especially when the call is unsolicited by the homeowner.  It is a good practice to demand to see photo identification of any salesperson or utility worker calling at one’s door.  If the homeowner is still unsure of the visitor’s credibility, call the business to verify the visitor’s identity and purpose of the visit.

“We’ve seen this happen before, where criminals take advantage of the elderly, who might be easily confused,” Lt. Vernon explained.  “This is only one incident so far, but we want the public to be better aware and safe.”

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Detective Mike Mazzacano, Central Burglary Unit, at 213-972-1231.  Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

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