Utica, NY (WIBX) - Utica police officials are passing along an alert they received from their intelligence services in downstate, about "Gypsy-related crime activities" that could be making its way to our region. Public Information Officer, Sergeant Steve Hauck says there hasn't been any "Gypsy" related crimes in the region however the department typically encounters them in the spring and summer months.

Hauck said, "They seem to target elderly people. They have many scams all intended to basically get into peoples residences. Sometimes it will be an offer to do yard work or pave the driveway or some story of needing to use the phone or borrow $10, or their car is broken down, there's all different kinds of stories." He added that they tend to work in teams.

Also, Hauck says that once these individuals succeed in using their distraction tactics on an unsuspecting victim and gain entry into their home, they steal check books, money and anything else they can get their hands on. "We would like people to know that if they have an elderly parent or grandparent, to keep them advised and not let these people into your home," Hauck said.

The intelligence report from Nassau County highlighted an incident on February 21, stating that, "a complainant in Elmont reported that she observed two females she believed to be Hispanic attempt to enter her residence through a side door. When confronted, the women acted confused and stated that they were hired to clean a house, giving an address that does not exist. The subjects then fled to a waiting vehicle driven by a male subject."

The report goes on to say that "Gypsy related crimes" typically involve larceny, burglary and fraud through the use of "confidence games" that target the elderly. The report also states that, "Gypsies are sometimes mistaken for individuals of Hispanic origin, and will utilize numerous aliases and pedigree information. The vehicles involved in Gypsy-related crime usually have out-of-state plates. There are numerous scams and Modus Operendi (MO's) that Gypsies commonly use."

Intelligence officials provided the common Gypsy strategies:

  • Gypsies will sometimes pose as traveling handymen or utility company workers (phone company, water company, county assessor etc.). The subjects will attempt to gain entry from a homeowner through some sort of ruse (Ex: a water pipe is broken down the street and they need access to the basement), and while the homeowner is distracted, their accomplices are committing a burglary.
  • Driving the area looking for people working in their yards. The subjects will enter through an unlocked door and ransack the bedrooms for jewelry while the homeowner is unaware outside.
  • Working in groups of two (2) or three (3), a woman and child will approach a homeowner and ask if the child can use the bathroom. The unsuspecting homeowner allows the child to use the bathroom and the woman will distract the homeowner while someone else enters the home and commits a burglary.
  • If a homeowner catches Gypsies in the act of committing a crime, they have been known to act confused and communicate in a Romanian/Eastern European dialect that is difficult to decipher.
  • Sometimes Gypsies will carry a pre-posted and addressed envelope (usually addressed to a Post Office Box). Using this envelope, Gypsies have been known to take the proceeds of a burglary (jewelry, cash, credit cards etc.) and mail them in the first mailbox they encounter. This way, if the police conduct a field stop, the subjects will not be in possession of the proceeds.

Officials say these types of crimes occur throughout the country. For more information contact your local police department.