MHNC Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of ‘Distraction’ Burglary

Distraction Burglary is usually committed by very skilled and well organized groups who prey on vulnerable, trusting individuals, particularly senior citizens.

  • Treat uninvited strangers who come to your house with healthy suspicion. Burglars come in many guises and sometimes are even accompanied by children. If they tell you they have “run out of gas”, “are looking for their dog/cat”, “had an accident and need to use your phone”, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR. Tell them you will call someone for help.
  • It is recommended that you not open your door to strangers when it is a ‘cold call’ i.e. someone whom you have not invited or with whom you do not have an appointment. You are not being impolite, you are being smart. But don’t be ‘silent’! Always let it be known that someone is home.
  • Legitimate companies do not solicit business door to door. Don’t be fooled by the contractors ‘pitch’ that “we’re doing work around the corner and will give you a special price” to install a new driveway, install windows etc. It’s worth repeating, legitimate companies do not solicit door to door!
  • Avoid keeping large sums of money in your house and keep valuables out of sight (e.g. jewelry, purse, checkbook, briefcase et cetera).
  • If DWP, Gas Co. or other ‘officials’ come to your door, always ask for credentials or some form of picture identification – before you open the door. Then verify that it is legitimate. Keeping a list of official phone numbers by your telephone will help. Any genuine caller who is rightfully and lawfully at your front door will not mind that you are taking this precaution.
  • Don’t allow strangers who come to your door to ‘engage’ you in a long conversation. A burglar knows that the longer they keep you talking, the more trusting you will become.
  • Always keep your doors locked when you are at home. If you don’t have a door chain or dead bolt, consider having one installed.
  • Don’t be fooled or enticed by the word “free” or the offer of “big discounts” et cetera. If it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is!
  • Never leave someone standing on your porch and re-enter your house leaving your door open and unattended. If you go back into your house, close and immediately lock the door. If you must step out onto the porch, make sure the door is NOT locked and then close the door behind you.
  • Finally, when you leave, even for a short time, secure your property by locking all doors AND windows.  Consider leaving your radio on. Placement of a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on a gate is cheap and can be a deterrent.  Keep shrubs and trees cut back to avoid a place for bad guys to ‘hide’. Call 911 if you come home and think a burglar has entered your home, NEVER go inside.

Identity Theft. NEVER place in your mailbox for pick-up by your mail carrier any sensitive mail, i.e. statement, bill, invoice or correspondence that may have your personal identification in the form of a social security number, credit card number, tax identification et cetera.  Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the Nation.

“Remember, personal responsibility is the best prevention to becoming a victim.”

Senior Lead Officer, Phillip Ruiz

For more information on public safety issues in your neighborhood, the MHNC encourages stakeholders to attend the Mission Hills Neighborhood Watch monthly meetings. Meetings are held the 4th Tuesday of every month, 7:00 p.m. at our Mission Area Community Police Station in the Timothy M. Falco Room.  For more information on Neighborhood Watch, contact Betty Ley at 818-837-3664.