Crime Prevention

Distraction Burglaries: The Coral Gables Police Department would like the public to be on the lookout for individuals who are impersonating exterminators, landscapers, utility workers, handymen and even contractors. These impostors are targeting the elderly community and committing robberies. Residents have been coerced out of their homes or distracted while the impostors steal their cash, jewelry or other valuables. In a recent case, the individual approached the victim and offered to help unload groceries as an opportunity to enter the victim’s home. They may also try to distract victims by asking to use their phone, asking for a glass of water, or looking for a lost pet. The burglaries usually occur rapidly without the homeowner’s knowledge.

These impostors will keep victims distracted and confine them to one room, usually the bathroom or kitchen, while others secretly enter the residence and burglarize it. Many times the residence usually looks undisturbed as it was prior to the burglary. This causes a time delay from when the victim actually notices that they have been burglarized to when they report the crime. In essence, these individuals will get away with your valuables.

In a recent case reported to the Coral Gables Police Department, two unknown offenders posed as employees of a water company and entered the home of an elderly victim. While inside, one of the individuals asked to see the husband’s bathroom and the other went upstairs and ransacked the jewelry box. The victim did not see the ransacked bedroom until it was much later in the evening.

In another case, the suspect was impersonating an exterminator. He arrived at the residence and began spraying the perimeter of the home to grasp the attention of the homeowner. Once he had the attention of the homeowner, the suspect intentionally “accidentally” poured a liquid onto the victim's hands and told them it was an acid or toxic substance. The suspect immediately demanded that the homeowner wash off this supposed chemical. The suspect followed the victim into the bathroom and forcibly removed the rings from the hands and then fled the residence. Most of the vehicles used in these crimes have out-of-state license plates.

Crime Prevention Tips : To avoid being a victim of distraction burglaries, please remember to keep all doors securely locked at all times, even when you are inside your home. Carry a cordless or cellular phone with you (even outside) to call the police. Store the 305-442-1600 non-emergency number to the Coral Gables Police Department in your phone. If someone comes to your residence or approaches you for help, do not let them inside: Tell them you will call the police for them – if someone really needs help they will appreciate the call to the police. Do not let anyone inside your house “who offers to do work on/around your house” that you have not called for. Invite a relative or neighbor to be with you while salesmen or repairmen are in your house. Never let anyone enter your house without first verifying their information. If you suspect individuals are not who they say they are, immediately contact the Coral Gables Police Department at 305-442-1600 and have the police come by to check on them. When you are going to be out of town, please call the Coral Gables Police Department at 305-460-5408 to start a House Watch. This service is free to Coral Gables residents.

Crime Prevention Tips : The Coral Gables Police Department would like to remind the public to be vigilant this Holiday Season and remove any key fobs or valet keys from their vehicles. Also when valeting your vehicle, remove items from the center console and glove compartment that identify your address (i.e. mail, vehicle insurance statements, vehicle registration, etc.). Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477) or contact the Coral Gables Police Department at 305-442-1600.

Crime Prevention Tips : Please help us protect you by following these crime-free holiday season safety tips: If you’re traveling during the holidays and plan to be away from home, have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspaper and call our Police Department at 305-442-1600 to request a residential security check. This service is free of charge and helps us know when to patrol around your home to check for any suspicious activity. Indoor and outdoor lights at home should be on an automatic timer. When dashing out of your home for the holiday season, make sure your garage door is closed to prevent thefts at home. Also, check that all doors and windows are locked to prevent break-ins. When shopping after dark, remember to park in well-lit areas and shop with friends or relatives because there is safety in numbers. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Always lock all vehicle doors and never keep holiday packages and valuable items in plain view inside of your vehicle. When you go shopping, be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse as they are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas. If you’re attending a holiday party, plan on having a designated driver. Don’t drink and drive and don’t text and drive for your safety and for those on the road.

Crime Prevention Tips : To avoid the theft of packages left at your doorsteps during this holiday season, the Coral Gables Police Department wants you to remember the following tips: Please request a signature with delivery confirmation when having packages sent to your home. Make sure you contact the shipping company and arrange for the delivery at a time when you will be home to receive it. Arrange for a neighbor or a friend to receive the package on your behalf if you’re not home. Talk to your neighbors when you are expecting a delivery. Keep an eye for strangers coming to your front door for no apparent reason, and be suspicious of anyone following delivery trucks. If you have an understanding boss, have your package delivered to you at work. You can also track your packages online to see exactly when they’ve been delivered to your home. Many companies offer a text notification to your cell phone when a package has been delivered. You can also have FedEx or UPS packages sent to a local distribution center nearby to be held for pick up. If your package contains an item worth a lot of money, it is best to insure all valuable items. For more information, contact the Police Department Community Affairs Unit at 305-460-5403.

Crime Prevention Tips : Lawn care maintenance companies doing business in Coral Gables can prevent crimes of opportunity by not leaving valuable equipment unsecured and unattended. To avoid becoming a victim, lock all equipment trailers and keep an itemized inventory of valuable equipment writing down make, model and serial numbers. Take photos or video of the interior and exterior of trailers and lawn equipment. Place an identifying mark on all equipment for proper identification. Be alert: most thefts occur when equipment trailers are left open and unlocked, and when workers are in the rear of residences and out of sight. If you witness any suspicious activities, don’t hesitate to call the Coral Gables Police Department at 305-442-1600.

Crime Prevention Tips : Remain alert at your place of business and watch for suspicious persons or vehicles, especially at opening and closing time. Always keep the inside of your business well lit, especially the entrances and exits. Lights must provide optimum visibility, both inside and out, with those outside having vandal-proof covers over the lights and power source. The cash register should be visible from outside of your business. Leave it open and empty after closing. Make bank deposits often and during business hours, and do not take the same route to the bank each time and do not go at the same time each day. All doors should be of solid construction, metal lined and secured with heavy metal crossbars. All exposed door hinges should be pinned to prevent removal. For more information on how to protect your business, contact the Police Department Community Affairs Unit at 305-460-5403.

Crime Prevention Tips : Always keep your doors locked even when you are home. If a stranger knocks on your door, do not open the door or let them into your home. Acknowledge them by speaking loudly and asking them what they want. If you feel they are suspicious immediately contact the Coral Gables Police at 305-442-1600. Double checks that your windows are locked after you’ve had maintenance or repairs done on your home. For more information contact the Police Department Community Affairs Unit at 305-460-5403.

Crime Prevention Tips : Always keep your doors locked to your vehicle, even when you are home. Remove all valuables from the interior of the vehicle. Conceal the garage door opener; if someone steals the garage door opener they have access into your home. Do not leave the key fob in the vehicle as your car doors will not lock. For more information contact the Police Department Community Affairs Unit at 305-460-5403.

Additional Resources :

Deter, Detect, Defend: Avoid ID Theft
Stop, Think, Click: 7 Practices for Safer Computing
Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft