CREVE COEUR, Mo — Police are asking the public to be on alert after a group of men posing as contractors entered a woman’s home and stole jewelry. The incident happened in Creve Coeur, on a recent weekday afternoon. The men arrived in a white truck and offered to make repairs to the homeowner’s gutters.
The homeowner stepped outside her front door and was engaged in conversation with one of the men, unaware that the group had split up. At various points of the conversation, the suspects had entered the home and stolen jewelry from a bedroom.
A neighbor recognized the group from next door, and immediately stepped in.
“I had to go over and see what was going on,” Joan Milburn said.
Milburn said the same group rang her doorbell and knocked on her door minutes earlier.
“Of course I didn’t answer the door,” Milburn said.
Sensing trouble, she walked over to her neighbor’s home and confronted the men. Milburn recalled that the group had left a flyer on her door advertising driveway repair services. The advertisement did not mention the name of any individual or company, nor did it leave a phone number, she said.
That was when she demanded answers from the group. She said the men claimed to be onsite to make gutter repairs.
“I said, ‘That doesn’t sound right – can I see the contract, that she signed.’ And he said ‘No, we’re going to fix all this,’” she said. “As I’m talking to these two men, I see a third man come out from the front door, he goes over to the truck. I said, ‘Well, I’m going to call her daughter.’ I turn to call the daughter, and when I turned back, all three men were gone.”
Milburn said no more than 20 minutes had passed since the time the suspects knocked on her door. She immediately contacted police.
Creve Coeur Police credit Wilburn for intervening, noting that the situation could have escalated.
Milburn said she is grateful her neighbor was not physically harmed.
“They got out of there, and she was safe – startled obviously – but she was safe and that is what’s important,” she said.
Creve Coeur Police describe the suspect vehicle as a white pickup truck, possibly a Chevy, with a rack over the bed.
Police said the incident should serve as a reminder to everyone that these kinds of incidents can happen anywhere – not just Creve Coeur – as people make home repairs in the spring and summer months.
“As the season starts to warm up, you’re going to see a lot more solicitors in the area, legitimately soliciting businesses, but at the same time, you’ll see criminal solicitors trying to pull a con game,” Creve Coeur Crime Prevention & Community Policing Officer James Grandstaff said.
Grandstaff said in Creve Coeur and other communities, including unincorporated St. Louis County, solicitors are required to register and must present identification and the proper paperwork. He said the key for these con artists is to distract the homeowner.
“Whether it be gutter repair, asphalt repair or roof repair — basically, a red flag to look out for is if they are attempting to get a resident to come outside their home – to say either they want to repair, or get inside your house and perform an inspection. They want to defeat that barrier of a front door,” Grandstaff said.
Grandstaff credits Milburn for her quick thinking during the ordeal. Milburn said she is grateful her neighbor wasn’t physically harmed. She said it is important for homeowners to exercise caution.
“Don’t answer the door, if you’re in the house by yourself, and if you have not called on anyone to see you, I would say don’t answer your door. If it looks really suspicious, give the police a call,” she said.