Beware of strangers at door, county police warning elderly

Burglars used schemes to gain entry to five homes

May 01, 1999|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Earl Scriven was writing a letter in his Baltimore Highlands home when he heard a knock at the door.

It was a woman, asking to borrow a pen and paper.

As he handed the woman a pen, she started pushing her way into his home. A cool-headed 88-year-old, Scriven pushed back as three other women appeared behind the first woman. He stomped on the first woman's foot and slammed the door.

Scriven is one of the lucky ones, said Baltimore County police, who are seeking help from the public to identify suspects responsible for deceiving elderly people to burglarize their homes.

Since April 20, five elderly people have been victimized in similar incidents in Wilkens, Parkville and North Point, police said.

"It makes me awful mad," said Scriven as he recalled the incident, which happened about a week ago. "I'm trying to get the word out to warn people who might be elderly and who might live alone, because they are the targets.

"I had a cool head, I still have plenty of muscle left, I'm far from being stupid, and I had nine years of amateur wrestling to prevent something like that from happening to me," Scriven said.

Police said that in most cases, the suspects knock on doors offering to do home repairs, or ask for a pen and paper to leave a note for a neighbor. While one person distracts the homeowner, a second person usually enters the home to go through personal property.

"If you haven't called for someone to enter the house, don't fall for the home improvement scam," warned Cpl. Vicki Warehime, a police spokeswoman. "In the case of strangers coming to the door, if you choose to help them, then that's fine.

"But by all means, don't let anyone in, and if this happens, please contact the police," Warehime added.

In the North Point area, witnesses described the suspects as three white males in their early 40s. In Wilkens, the suspects were described as four Asian females, 30 to 40 years old, well dressed, with dark complexions and long, black hair, and a white female, 40, well dressed, with an olive complexion and short black hair. In Parkville, the suspect was described only as a female.

It is not known whether the suspects are working together, Warehime said, but they are using similar tactics.

Anyone with information should call county police at 410-887-2198.

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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