Recent 'distraction burglary' not the first time tactic seen in West University Place, police say

Miya Shay Image
Saturday, May 13, 2023
2-man crew robs West U senior during so-called 'distraction burglary'
Recognize this man? He's one of two people believed to have taken part in a distraction burglary targeting a senior living in West University Place.

WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE, Texas (KTRK) -- A West University Place family wants to find the scammers who distracted their father and stole valuables from their home by pretending to be tree trimmers.

The burglary, which happened on Monday, was caught on video. In one clip, you can see a man put on gloves and rummage around the homeowner's office. He was one of at least two people who worked together.

"A guy dressed in a construction vest, rang his doorbell, told him he needed to trim his trees in the backyard," Jennifer Fleming, the daughter of the victim, said. "After my dad gave him access, another guy came in and went in through his house, every single room, went through every drawer, every cabinet, took several valuables, more sentimental stuff."

Fleming, who spoke to ABC13 via Zoom from out of state, said her dad was kept occupied in the backyard by the fake tree trimmer, while the person seen on video rummaged through the entire house. West University Place police say they've seen this type of burglary before.

"This is a criminal tactic being used that we've seen more and more frequently," Sgt. Patricio Acevedo said. "We dub it as the 'distraction burglary,' where they are distracting the homeowner and leave the whole residence unattended."

Fleming said her dad realizes he may not get his sentimental items ever returned, but the family is sharing their story and the surveillance video of the suspect in hopes someone recognizes the man, and that the scammers will be caught.

"It's just devastating that people do this to vulnerable people. It's just an emotional situation, makes me very angry," she said.

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