Home Repair Fraud and Ruse Burglary Prevention
The arrival of spring and warmer weather provides homeowners with the opportunity to make wanted or needed repairs and changes to their house or property. While some people will choose to do the work themselves and save money, others will opt for hiring a handyman or contractor to do the work for them. Some, such as the elderly, may not have the luxury of choice and will do the latter.
The Vernon Hills Police Department would like to warn everyone that, unfortunately, warm weather activities such as painting, roofing and driveway sealing also brings out criminals who take advantage of people who need these services performed. For many reasons, it is often senior citizens that become targets for these types of crimes. Regardless, anyone can become a victim if you don't think first and use good judgment.
One of the most common of all the home repair rip-offs is the driveway sealing scam. In this scam, the homeowner is approached at the home and told that a nearby driveway repair job was just completed and that because there is material remaining, the homeowner has an opportunity to take advantage of it and save money - if the work is performed immediately. However, once the job is done, the homeowner is often told that the cost is more than expected. In addition, the material used may be substandard and will wash off with the next rain.
Other home repair frauds are similar. The homeowner may be overcharged and/or the quality of the work is poor as well as the quality of the material being used.
Sometimes, a ruse burglary is the real purpose of an unsolicited visit. A ruse burglary is when the offender may pose as a public utility employee, a roofer, or other service provider and claim they need access to the victim's residence or back yard to inspect their water, gas or cable components, recent work done, work that needs to be done, etc. The offender will then direct the victim to an area of the residence away from where valuables may be stored, or to come outside of their residence to look at something in their yard while an accomplice enters the home.
Although there are many, many variations and methods used by these kinds of criminals, there are also easy ways to keep from becoming a victim. Always:
- Get several estimates and compare. Ask if there is a charge for an estimate.
- Do some research first. Check out contractors with the Better Business Bureaus and state or local licensing agencies.
- Ask for references and call them. Ask your friends for recommendations.
- Be leery of high-pressure sales tactics or someone who "happens to be in the area" or claims to have materials left over from a previous job.
- Be suspicious of anyone asking for cash only or full payment up front.
- Always get a written contract and a guarantee on the work.
- Never sign a work of completion unless all work is done to your satisfaction.
- Do not allow strangers to come into your home or to distract you away from your unlocked front door.
Anyone with questions should contact the Crime Prevention Unit at (847) 247-4889.