HAINES CITY, Fla. -- The Polk County Sheriff's Office is warning residents after seeing an uptick in cases it calls "distraction burglaries."

The sheriff's office said it's seen multiple cases where someone comes to a front door, posing as a utility worker or surveyor in order to gain access to a home. Detectives said their goal is to get residents out of the home so they can take valuables.

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On Dec. 4, the sheriff's office said a couple reported their home had been burglarized in Haines City. They told the detectives a man claiming to work for Duke Energy showed up at their house and asked them to step outside to show them an issue. They said the man then told them that Duke Energy would come out the next day to complete the work. When they called the power company, the victims found no such work was scheduled, the sheriff's office said.

The victims told the sheriff's office they found that their small safe was missing after the man left. The couple described the man as Hispanic and between 35 and 40 years old. They said he was driving a midsize white SUV with dark tinted windows and a woman was driving the car.

"Unfortunately, this is the season for 'Grinches,'" Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Folks, these criminals are smooth, so be leery of anyone who approaches your house and asks to get you outside. If something seems suspicious, call 9-1-1."

Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the sheriff's office at (863) 298-6200. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

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