FREMONT (KPIX 5) – Law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area said the elderly are increasingly becoming victims of so-called “distraction burglaries.” Victims are lured out of their homes so thieves can get in, according to authorities.

Investigators with the Fremont Police Department released new surveillance photos of a woman believed to be part of a group of burglars hitting in the Cherry Guardino neighborhood.

Police said the woman posed as an animal control officer in Fremont and Union City on August 24th, pretending to look for poisonous snakes. The woman told one victim that she was investigating the case of a little girl who was bit by a snake in the neighborhood.

When the elderly woman answered the door, the suspect lets herself in, and then told everyone to get in the backyard and help her look for the snake. Meanwhile, the thief’s accomplices went in the front door and stole cash and jewelry.

According to Fremont Police, the suspect is traveling with one or two adult men who also are posing as animal services employees.

The scam is not limited to the East Bay. In Burlingame, police warn of another case of distraction involving drivers.

Police said two men in a white van drove up behind a woman and told her to pull over on Tuesday. The men told the woman that her car was making an unusual noise and convinced her she had a flat tire.

One of the suspects then distracted the woman by pretending to fix her tire, even though it wasn’t damaged in the first place. The suspect’s accomplice reached in the front passenger window and stole her wallet out of a purse, police said.

Also on Tuesday, scammers approached an elderly man at his home on Elm Street in San Carlos, saying his roof needed work. While he was up on a ladder to inspect his roof for damage, two accomplices went through the front door and burglarized his home, according to police.

Police are urging the public to watch for these scams and to check on their elderly family members.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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