Police warn residents of summer scams

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 27, 2016

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ROYAL OAK — Barbecues, beach trips and gardening are coveted activities enjoyed by residents when the mercury finally begins to rise; but unfortunately, police warn that the high temperatures also mean the return of warm-weather rips-offs.

“Every summer, we have different scams that people pull,” said Royal Oak Police Criminal Investigations Division Lt. David Clemens. “You will have groups that go around and they will want to seal your driveway, for example, or say that you have a tree that is dangerous and needs to be trimmed.”

Clemens said they usually operate in pairs and one person will distract the homeowner while their partner enters the home.

“They tend to do that more in the summer months because they have more of a reason and can make up a reason to interact with people,” he said.

Clemens also warns people to lock their front doors while out doing yardwork. He said another popular crime involves the criminals looking for people doing yard work in a backyard so they can quickly enter the home through the front.

Police currently are looking for information regarding an alleged scammer who posed as an unspecified water department employee to enter a woman’s home and steal an undisclosed amount of money.

The woman told police that the man came to her home in the 4200 block of Mandalay Avenue shortly after 1:30 p.m. May 25 saying that he was there to shut off the water.

She let him in the home and police said he convinced the woman to leave the room while he supposedly completed the work. After she left, he stole money and fled the area in an unknown make and model gray vehicle.

Clemens said these types of criminals typically target older adults.

“They go after more mature people because they are more likely to get into the house and are less of a threat,” he said.

Clemens said the most important rule if a resident feels a scammer is at their front door is to not let them inside the home.

“If someone comes up, ask them, ‘What is your name? Can I see your work identification?” he said.

Clemens said that if the person is there for a legitimate cause, the person will not mind if a resident takes the time to verify the person’s identity and the legitimacy of the visit.

Clemens said it is OK to ask them to leave by telling them you will verify the situation with the appropriate agency and reschedule the home visit.

Another helpful tip for police investigators is to compile as much information about potential scammers and their vehicles as possible, without putting yourself in harm’s way.

“We would never want anyone to put themselves in a bad spot,” Clemens said. “We definitely don’t want to encourage people to be confrontational.”

The suspect in the Mandalay Avenue incident was described as a white man who stood about 6 feet tall with a thin build and brown hair. He wore an orange vest with yellow stripes.

Anyone with information about the Mandalay Avenue incident or any other scamming incident should call the Royal Oak Police Criminal Investigation Division at (248) 246-3456.