COPS: Beware of 'Gypsies' and 'Travelers' this Spring

2:08 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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Hillsborough Co., FL-- "Every Spring, the Tampa Bay area has had an increase in 'gypsy' and 'traveler' activity," explained the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in a release Tuesday. 

According to the release, law enforcement considers "gypsies" to be people who travel in small groups across the country thieving, burglarizing and committing fraud, and officials want you to beware. 

Officials warned that these gypsies often walk right into unlocked homes in the middle of the day to steal jewelry, money or other valuables. 

"Very often, the homeowner is either in or near the home" and "if these individuals are caught, they give excuses as to why they are in the home or on the property."

The best way to keep from becoming a victim of their crimes? Simply keep your doors locked and your garage doors closed, the report said. 

As mentioned, gypsies are not the only pack of people officials want you to beware of this coming season. 

According to the report, traveling home improvement workers often called "travelers" or "Irish travelers" go from door to door offering to pave or seal driveways at a very affordable price. 

They often prey on unsuspecting homeowners, such as the elderly, and they claim they are there to finish a patch from a previous job. 

The report said "Travelers" often want payment up front and prefer cash, but have been to known to accept checks as well.

"Most homeowners who hire the traveling workers experience shoddy work with substandard materials. Then the victim can't locate the worker for a refund or to repair the job." 

In the past, victims who have tried to stop payment on a check have been unsuccessful, as it's been cashed with a fake name.

To avoid falling victim to these crimes, officials suggested that homeowners be suspicious of anyone who knocks on their doors with an offer that sounds too good to be true. 

References and the Better Business Bureau can also be utilized as preventative resources.

Another way to protect yourselves: "Always pay at the conclusion of the job," said the report. 

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