A few years ago the entire south Florida area was plagued with transient burglars, commonly referred to as "gypsy burglars". The term gypsy is defined as: "to live or roam like a Gypsy." These roaming thieves were well known for their brazen burglaries of our residents. The burglars consist of numerous individuals, usually "extended family" members, who walk through the neighborhoods looking for "easy" targets, oftentimes preying on the elderly. At the time, through the efforts of many, these individuals were identified. Some were arrested, and most left the area.
Recently we have experienced a few burglaries in which we are confident the culprits are members of these roaming groups. Their M.O. (modus operandi) includes, but is not limited to the following:
They will drop off one of their people, usually a female (recent description is a heavyset, dark skinned woman, approximately 50 years of age), who walks the neighborhoods. She will approach a home and try the doors. If she locates an unlocked door, she walks in and begins her search for valuables. If she runs into anyone in the house, she will apologize for being in the "wrong house", and explain that she was looking for a friend.
They will work in pairs, with one person approaching the front door of a home. While this person is distracting the home's occupant, the second person enters the home from the rear and begins to search for valuables. They will also ask to use the phone, and again while in the home, one person will distract the occupant while the other slips away to steal valuables.
Another way they apply their trade is when they pose as utility workers, exterminators, or repair people, and while one is distracting the home's occupant, the second is stealing.
In almost all cases there is an accomplice nearby, generally down the street, in a vehicle. This person is there to warn of approaching police with a pre-arranged signal, and to provide a getaway vehicle after the theft occurs.
How can you help? Again, we at the police department ask for your assistance. Anytime you see or experience anything of an unusual nature, call the police immediately. If you see someone walking your neighborhood streets that you don't recognize, call the police immediately. If you find someone in your home, or in your backyard, and you don't know them, call the police immediately. If someone approaches your home, and you didn't have an appointment with them, don't let them in (even if they claim to be from a reputable company, or the city, or the power company, etc…), and call the police immediately. And most of all keep an eye out for your neighbors as well. If you see anything suspicious, call the police immediately.
We are here to help, but as I have said before, we can't do it alone. Please call us any time you see anything unusual.