By Bob Bong
Palos Heights police are warning residents about two men dressed as a utility or municipal workers who attempted at least two ruse burglaries on Jan. 26.
In one incident in the 1200 block of 69th Avenue, cameras installed by the homeowner captured a man wearing a tool belt and a neon green utility vest about 3 p.m. walking through a back yard and then cutting through a screen door on an enclosed back porch before trying to enter the home through a back door.
The homeowner installed two cameras this month in an attempt to photograph a fox and a coyote he said he had noticed were prowling through his back yard.
One of the Ring-brand cameras was permanently installed on the back porch facing the screen door and the other was just lying on the grass in the back yard.
“Can you believe I put them up just a couple of weeks ago,” the homeowner said. “I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the fox and coyote that are around. I was stunned when I received an alert and saw this guy walking through my yard, cutting the screen door and trying to enter my house.”
Police said the second incident occurred in the 7000 block of 125th Street, where an elderly couple were met at the door by a male subject in a utility vest who identified himself as a city water department employee and that the water at nearby St. Alexander’s Church was turned off.
The man entered the home to check the water pressure in the basement with the homeowner when a second man entered the home and was intercepted by the resident’s wife.
Deputy Police Chief William Czajkowski said these incidents are consistent with gypsy ruse burglaries.
He said the culprits usually knock on a door to tell the residents, who are usually elderly, that they are with the city or a utility company and that there is an issue with either the water or electric or a rear fence, anything to distract the residents while a second subject enters and burglarizes the home.
The subject captured by the porch camera has been identified as being involved in both incidents.
Czajkowski said there were no water issues in the area and residents should not to allow unknown subjects into their homes.
Police urged anyone with video that captures the subject in the area of the 7000 block of 125th Street or the 12000 block of 69th Avenue between 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday to email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Czajkowski said city workers for Palos Heights always carry a city-issued ID card that is white and green.