Thieves distract homeowners before they steal around the Tampa Bay area

Distraction thefts reported in 2 counties
Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 11, 2017

Investigators in Sarasota and Polk Co. are looking for thieves using similar tactics to steal from senior citizens.

In the most recent cases, one man goes to a home and tells the homeowner they're doing work at the neighbor's home and need to set a barrier in their backyard.

While the homeowner takes the thief out back, another person goes inside and takes off with jewelry and other items.

It happened to Alda Phillips early last week.

"He'd talk to me and then he would talk on his cell phone and then he would talk to me," she said.

She says they were out for a little less than an hour and she didn't realize her items were missing until later that night when she went to her jewelry box and noticed more than 20 of her rings were gone including her old wedding ring from her late husband.

"Just made me sick right then," she said.

Investigators received a similar report in the same area around North Lakeland.

Longboat Key Police say two men stole from a home there last week using an almost identical tactic.

Thieves have distracted three other homeowners around Sarasota Co. during the past year.

Polk Co. Sheriff Grady Judd recommends people only answer their door to people they are expecting.

"Tell them I'm not interested, I'm calling the sheriff's office," he said. "My dog's going to bite you."

Phillips isn't' sure she'll get her jewelry back, but won't be opening her door to strangers any time soon.

"I can't let this ruin my life," she said.