Riverside police are warning residents to be wary of what appears to be two crews attempting to trick owners into providing access to homes in order to burglarize them. Three separate incidents – all near or on Harlem Avenue – have been reported this week, with offenders successfully entering two of the residences.
According to police, however, it appears that nothing was taken from the homes that were entered.
“To our knowledge they had success getting into the homes, but were unsuccessful in getting anything,” said Lt. William Legg.
The first incident occurred on May 2 at about 11:40 a.m. in the 300 block of Addison Road. A woman reported to police that she was unloading groceries from her car when she was approached by a heavyset man wearing a safety vest and white hard hat.
Legg said the man reported that there was some sort emergency in the area and that he needed to check whether there was a problem with her water and electric service. The woman let him into the basement, but locked the door behind him.
The woman then told police she saw a second man, described as tall and skinny “with bad teeth,” attempting to get in the locked back door. When he was unable to do so, he walked away.
After the man who had entered the home said he needed to check the water heater, the woman said her son would be home soon, and the man left the house and left in what was described as a large Ford SUV. She gave police a license plate number, which was registered to a Skokie man, Legg said. A vehicle bearing that license plate had also been stopped in Chicago by Illinois State Police four days earlier. The driver reportedly told the officer that he was helping Chicago police “catch gypsies.”
On May 4, two female residents reported in separate incident to police that a heavyset man and a heavyset woman carrying a child appeared at their front doors, and tried to get them to open the door to talk.
In one of the incidents, which happened around 12:30 p.m., the heavyset couple was able to force their way into a home in the 200 block of East Quincy Street and spent “minutes” inside the home with the female resident who answered the door. It is unclear if they were able to take anything from the home before leaving in a white work-type van.
The other incident happened between 11 a.m. and noon in the 2800 block of Harlem Avenue. A woman there told police that a heavyset couple with a child knocked on the front door and motioned for her to come outside. When she refused, the couple persisted. However, when the resident picked up a phone and pretended to call police, the couple left.