3 sought after jewelry stolen in repair scam
CHAMPAIGN — Champaign police are looking for a trio of men who stole jewelry from an elderly Champaign couple while scamming them out of cash for slipshod work done around their house.
A Champaign police report said the couple, both in their late 80s, live on South New Street, and believe that they were victimized on the afternoon of May 29 by three men came to their home offering to do home repairs.
One, a white man in his 40s, about 6 feet tall with a slim build and short brown hair, identified himself as Tony Shoemaker and led the lady of the house to believe that he had done work there in the past.
He then asked if he could fill cracks in the concrete driveway, move storm windows and perform other minor jobs for around $600. The couple living there agreed that he could do the work.
At one point that day, Shoemaker sat in the house with the woman and talked with her over a beverage, asking her questions that included if she collected anything of value. He even offered to pay her for any valuables she would be willing to sell.
After the work was done — there were two other men there — the couple paid them $500 in cash. After the men left, the couple realized several pieces of jewelry, valued at approximately $9,200, were missing from a box. They also found the repairs were done in a shoddy manner and weren't completed.
The next morning, they reported what happened to police, who continue to investigate.
Meantime, Urbana police received a similar report Tuesday about work done on Friday at a home on East Rainbow View Drive.
An older man and woman reported that two men solicited them for home repairs then provided additional services that the couple had not agreed to and charged them for the extra work.
Police urge folks to be wary of anyone coming to the door offering to do work. Do not let them into the house without verifying their identity and company. Many of these people work in teams, with the first person taking the homeowner to a part of the house or outside to show the resident something that the worker noticed from the street that is in need of repair. The other offender will then go in the home and search for valuables.
Police also advise:
Don't be afraid to close the door or excuse yourself from the conversation to confer with someone or to contact police. If the person is a reputable contractor, the police officer will be able to verify that.
Remember that reputable, bonded and insured companies do not solicit door to door. Do your homework and research the company first, before agreeing to any services. Avoid paying for services in cash, if possible.
Anyone with information on these persons is asked to call Champaign police at 217-351-4545 or callers can remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at 373-8477. Information can also be sent by anonymous Web tip by going to: http://www.373tips.com or by texting keyword "CCTIP" plus the information to 274637 (CRIMES).