Chicago Police issued an alert Wednesday about a group of men posing as construction contractors and robbing residences on the city's Far South Side.
Police said two or three men show up to a home, and while one distracts the victim, the others search for property to take, mainly small things like jewelry and cash.
The group targets senior citizens, police said. They gain entry by ringing a doorbell or knocking on a door of various residences and claiming false reasons for entry. They say they're new neighbors, utility employees, tree cutters or construction contractors needing to make immediate repairs inside the home.
"They try to fill their pockets. These are not people who are walking out with TVs," said Detective Jonathon Harmening. "These are people who are leaving with your jewelry or targeting elderly that have a lot of cash on-hand."
Teresa Lukowski of the Hegewisch neighborhood was targeted, but the thieves abruptly left her home for some reason without taking anything. She says a man walked into her house without permission last Wednesday.
"I said 'what do you want?' and he said, 'I'm buying the house next door and want to put up a fence and I want to know where the lot-line is,'" said Lukowski. "He'd just talk, talk, talk. I couldn't stop him from talking."
Seven incidents have been reported this year between Jan. 24 and April 18. Police said the group responsible is known as the Eastern European Travelers who believe it's OK to steal.
Police are warning homeowners to be aware of offenders claiming to be from service companies who must enter residences.
The offenders are described as white or white Hispanics between 30 and 50 years old with a “heavy build” and seen wearing dark-colored, construction-type clothing.
Police asks anyone who notices a similar situation to contact police and alert neighbors. They advise residents to not allow unexpected service workers into them home and always request identification.