NORTHBROOK, Ill. (STMW) — Police in north suburban Northbrook are warning residents and business owners to be on the lookout for “ruse burglars,” since several homes in the village have been targeted in the last few weeks.

A “ruse burglar” is someone who represents himself as an employee of a utility company, such as the village water department or Com Ed, or as a contractor working in the area, said Cheryl Fayne-dePersio, Northbrook’s communications manager.

He usually tells the homeowner that they may have a problem and he will check on it to find out if it is a safety issue or not, she added.

The homeowner will accompany the phony worker to whatever the person wants to check, often in the basement or back yard, while an accomplice gains entry to the home and steals all the jewelry, money or other valuables he can carry.

Then, the person with the homeowner may get a “phone call” and leave abruptly or perhaps indicate that everything is fine after all. The homeowner may not discover the theft until much later.

Police are investigating a residential burglary occurring on Monday afternoon, April 15, in the 800 block of Bittersweet Drive, Fayne-dePersio said.

A man talked his way into a home posing as a telephone company employee as he distracted two people present. Then, others stole a safe containing $10,000 cash and jewelry from an upper floor.

One of the homeowners became suspicious after a while, and called 911, but the phony workers left the house through a basement exit. Police searched the neighborhood, but did not find anyone matching the descriptions given.

“Northbrook remains a safe community, and we all must work together to keep it safe. A few extra moments of precaution can save residents from becoming victims,” said Michael Shep, the police department’s supervisor of community relations.

He cautioned residents and business owners to check unknown visitors for valid picture identification and/or call the represented company for proof of the information provided.

Shep also reminded vehicle owners to make certain their vehicle doors are locked and no items are left within sight to prevent break-ins, which also have been increasing in the area lately.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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