Police say Lake County has been a hotbed of so-called “ruse burglaries” in recent years, leading a new investigative task force to devote attention to the area.
Three Lake County communities — Deerfield, Mundelein and Buffalo Grove — will participate in the task force, which will fall under the purview of Illinois State Police. Local police officials say the group will be an extension of similar work they have done since February with Lake County Sheriff’s Police.
“Officers have been working … in response to what we’ve noticed as an uptick in these types of burglaries and crimes,” said Deerfield Police Chief John Sliozis.
Since February, police from Lake County communities have investigated more than 20 ruse burglaries, stretching from the north suburbs of Chicago to Milwaukee, according to an Aug. 1 memo from Sliozis to Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street. Last year, more than 90 ruse burglaries were reported in Lake County, the memo states.
Ruse burglaries have continued this year. In January, police arrested Tony White, 37, of Chicago in connection with a ruse in Lake Zurich. According to Lake Zurich police, White distracted a 68-year-old man outside his home while possibly as many as three other people went inside and stole jewelry and a rare coin collection.
White was arrested after Lake Zurich police issued a region-wide alert about the burglary, said Lake Zurich Police Chief Patrick Finlon. An off-duty officer from another community happened to attend a coin show where he spotted a $1,000 bill with a serial number matching that of one stolen in Lake Zurich.
Although one person was arrested — his case is still in court — the others involved in the burglary were not — illustrating the challenges police face in investigating ruse burglaries.
“Getting a good physical description (of a suspect) is difficult,” Finlon said. “Offenders target people who are trusting and generally older.”
Steve Husak, deputy chief of the Buffalo Grove Police Department, said his department has made arrests over the years after analysing evidence, such as finger prints.
Observant neighbours help, too, Husak said. He cited a recent case in which a Buffalo Grove resident spotted a would-be burglar at a neighbour’s house.
Local police note that ruse burglaries are most prevalent during times of the year when people are outside. With the recent end of a hot weather streak, police are advising people to keep an eye out for potential scam artists.
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