Crime Prevention Tips from the Clearwater Police Department
Beware of Scams!
The change of weather brings many visitors to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. The overwhelming majority simply want to enjoy all of the fantastic opportunities Clearwater provides. Yet, with any large influx of people, there are those who look to take advantage of others. We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that you should remain cautious of people offering unsolicited services.
This scam targets people looking for vacation rentals. Scammers find property listings from realtor websites and post the property on CraigsList, HomeAway, VRBO, or other rental sites. They collect a deposit from the renter, but when the renter arrives at the property, it is not for available for rent.
In most cases, the homeowner is NOT aware of this and several have been very surprised to find that their home was listed.
The renter loses their deposit and they have no place to stay. The Clearwater Police Department has been actively working to stop this scam. An article about their efforts was recently run in the Tampa Bay Times. Click here to read the article.
Home Improvement Scam
In one type of criminal “scam,” the suspect typically approaches their victim at their residence, while offering to perform a service (tree trimming, roofing, driveway cleaning, etc.) at a greatly discounted price. In these criminal incidents, the suspect receives payment for the work, but either never performs the work or completes small portions and never returns. If the “deal” seems too good to be true, it probably is!
"May I come in?" Scam
Another type of criminal “scam” involves suspects who work in groups to distract their victim, usually elderly individuals. In these incidents, one subject will distract the victim, while other members search the home for valuables. The suspects typically gain access to the victim’s home by claiming they are interested in purchasing the home or that they need to use the restroom. Another manner in which these groups gain entry is through citing an interest in cleaning the victim’s jewelry; during the process, they claim to have spilled acid or other caustic substance on the victim. In the chaos, they make off with the victim’s jewelry.
Remember, if you have a question about an individual or company; exercise your right as a consumer to verify the individual’s or company’s business license or consumer rating. Legitimate individuals or companies will understand that you want to make an informed decision!