Men claiming to be conducting a property survey for the City of Oregon were able to gain entry to a Holly Drive residence and steal cash from the eldery homeowner, police said.
One man said he needed to look at the homeowners’ back yard while others apparently went into the home while the 83-year-old owner was distracted.
The incident occurred July 8.
According to police, the homeowner was cleaning a lawn mower in his front yard when a large red Ford, possibly an SUV, pulled into his driveway.
One man approached the homeowner with the story about the survey and they went into the back yard. The suspect conversed with someone by cell phone or walkie-talkie and told the homeowner they would be joined by his “supervisor” in a few minutes.
While the suspect was in the back yard with the homeowner, the suspect communicated several times with someone who apparently was in the house, police said.
The homeowner told the suspect he was going to get some work done while they waited and entered the residence through a rear door. He then saw three men exiting the home through a garage door.
He said they ran to the vehicle and went southbound on Holly to Luverne Avenue.
The homeowner told police he could see no license plates on the vehicle.
The owner described the suspect he talked with as being Hispanic in his 20s, 5-4 to 5-6, with black hair. Two other men appeared to be in their 30s and had large builds.
The suspect in the back yard was occasionally speaking Spanish on the walkie-talkie or phone, the homeowner told police. He said only cash was missing but the men apparently went through two bedrooms.
Mayor Marge Brown said all city employees carry identification with photos and city vehicles are marked.
Elderly residents in particular need to be wary of being approached in that manner, she said, adding, “That’s who they target.”
Police Chief Richard Stager said residents should notify his department if they suspect someone is claiming to be a city employee without the proper identification.
“Residents should try to get the license plate number or a description of the vehicle,” he said.
The non-emergency number of the police department is (419) 698-7064.
Chief Stager said residents shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 in the event of an emergency.