Thieves posing as fake workers to rob homes

February 17, 2010 4:17:14 PM PST
A community is on alert after a man posing as an AT&T worker tricked a homeowner into looking the other way while her valuables were being stolen. The thieves lied about who they are to gain your trust and then clean you out. It has residents in one west Houston neighborhood thinking twice before answering their front doors.

Houston police tell us while these types of scams are common, they say this particular case is not indicative of a larger pattern or trend. That's of little comfort to worried homeowners and residents here in Sherwood Oaks who remain vigilant in hopes of keeping it from happening again.

Like most of us, Kyla McCulley gets flooded with emails. One she recently received from a neighbor hit way too close to home. It read, "A tall thin, man, approximately 160 pounds knocked on her door and told her he was working at AT&T clearing out trees for the cable system."

The email went on to explain how the man who said he worked for AT&T managed to distract the homeowner directly across the street while an accomplice sneaked inside an unlocked door and burglarized the house.

"That's shocking to find out that it's something they do this time of year. I'm definitely going to be more aware," said McCulley.

According to the email, the crook, who was wearing a suit and tie, had a walkie-talkie. Police say he escorted the homeowner to the backyard to see which trees could be cut while "another man entered the home with a walkie-talkie and rummaged through drawers stealing cash and the owner's mother's ring."

Residents say another Sherwood Oaks homeowner recently foiled a similar scheme.

"We want him to know we're watching. We need cameras perhaps," said resident Nancy Vaught.

Neighbors communicate regularly through email and pride themselves on their citizens on patrol program. They say while it may have happened once, it's not likely to happen again.

"We look out for each other. A lot of people around here are home, during the day, all day and we're looking out for each other," said McCulley.

AT&T released a statement saying, "The safety of our customers and the entire community is very important to AT&T. Residents should ask any person claiming to be a company representative who visits their home to show proper identification. A legitimate AT&T employee or contractor is required to display their ID card at all times and present it upon request."

The case is being investigated by the Houston Police Department's Burglary and Theft Division. No arrests have been made.