Ruse burglaries on the rise in Pleasant Prairie

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PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A warning from Pleasant Prairie police -- burglars are working in pairs, scamming residents into letting them into their homes.

Pleasant Prairie's police chief wants people to know the ruse burglaries are not limited to this area. It's a growing problem all over southeast Wisconsin.

What you'll see in one video took place in Beloit a few months ago. It shows two or three crooks working together. The victim is typically elderly.

"They tend to separate you from the home, get you out looking at something in the back yard, get you looking at something in the basement," said Pleasant Prairie Police Chief Dave Smetana.

That's when a second guy sneaks inside. It happened twice Thursday, July 22, in a Pleasant Prairie neighborhood off 47th Avenue.

"They have props with them. So they may have a clipboard, they may have an ID lanyard. They may have a yellow or green or orange traffic vest to make them look more official," said Chief Smetana.

Pleasant Prairie police have taken 13 such reports since April. In half, the burglars got away with cash and/or jewelry. The stories they tell residents vary. On Thursday, they claimed to be landscapers and later said they were steak salesmen.

"About early twenties, made it midway up the driveway of my house, but we have a big dog and it scared him away. But he keeps going around knocking on people's doors," said Larissa Macy, neighbor.

Police hope people will call immediately if a stranger walks up without a permit.

"Since Village of Pleasant Prairie does require them. They actually have to carry it on them, they should be able to show you. If they can't show you, pretty much nope, we don't want to talk to you," said neighbor Nicci Geiger.

Scam artists, sadly, are not a new thing in the area.

"It's like scary. I can't believe the damage they did to it," said neighbor Ladonna Ergish.

Ergish says her elderly mom was duped out of $5,000 last year.

"And she let them follow her up to the bank and gave the money," Ergish said.

"Five grand for seal coating a driveway?"

"Yes, on a concrete driveway," said Ergish.

Ergish showed us the concrete driveway, now covered with a bad coat of blacktop. Her mom was told they'd be back the next day to fix it. They never returned.

Pleasant Prairie put a list of tips on their website to avoid burglary scams. First on the list -- don't allow anyone into your home without a prescheduled appointment.

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