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CAPS wrap: Garfield Ridge residents told to look out for scam artists

Chicago police warned residents of confidence games targeted at senior citizens at a Garfield Ridge neighborhood CAPS meeting last month.

Sgt. Allen Cain said the safety of senior citizens remains an important issue, in part because “con men” have been targeting residents in the neighborhood.

“If someone is at your front door, and they say they’re [city employees] and you know you didn’t call them, don’t open the door,” Cain said. “If they’re trying to sell you something, ask them for their company IDs.”

Resident Tom Bak told about an incident that happened at his home on the 5600 block of South Massasoit. He said two men came to his door and said they were from a roofing company.

“I saw that they had matching jackets with the company name on them,” Bak said. “It was a company I had never heard of, so I asked them for their company IDs. They told me their IDs were in their truck, which was parked at the other end of the block.”

Bak said he closed his door on the two men because “it felt like a scam.” He then called the police.

Chicago Police Officer Emily Campbell works in beat 811 and was called to investigate the two men who went to Bak’s door.

“I saw the two men going door to door,” Campbell said. She said she asked the two men to walk to their truck and provide company identification.

“As it turns out, it was a legit company,” Campbell said. “They showed me their company identification and official company paperwork.”

Cain said, “Tom did the right thing by calling the police. It doesn’t matter what the situation turns out to be — call the police anyway.”

According to Cain, scams are an issue in Garfield Ridge because of the heavy senior citizen population.

“Con men know who they’re going to get their money from,” Cain said. “Unfortunately, seniors are the most susceptible because they fall for their scams.”

Another item on the meeting’s agenda was what Cain described as an 8th District “success story,” in which two women were caught trying to steal from a home on the 5900 block of South Neenah.

An off-duty police officer who lives on the block called the police to report two women “acting suspicious” at his neighbor’s house, Cain said.

“One woman broke into the house by breaking a window with her elbow,” Cain said. “She gathered the items she wanted to steal while the other woman waited in the alley with the car running.”

Cain praised the vigilance of the off-duty officer for reporting the incident to police. He said the responding officers got to the house just in time to arrest the two women.

“Criminals know if they come to this neighborhood, most likely they’re going to find what they want in any given home,” Cain said. “The two women almost got away with taking flat screen TVs, iPads, iPods, laptops and jewelry.”

Cain said residents shouldn’t hesitate calling the police if anything “looks out of the ordinary.” He said crimes reported in beat 811  are down 23 percent, narcotic crimes are down 7 percent and arrests are down 28 percent, compared to the same time last year.

“The reasons we have CAPS meetings is to identify problems like these in the community,” Cain said. He added that CAPS meeting attendees should tell their neighbors about what is discussed to “create a better community life for everyone.”

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