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Scammers talk their way into pair of Hilo houses


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POSTED: Monday, March 30, 2009

A scam that has grown popular on Oahu has spread to the Big Island.

Call it home-invitation thievery: teams that exploit the aloha of local residents.

Big Island police are investigating two incidents of thieves talking their way into homes to steal valuables in Hilo on Friday, similar to scams reported in East Oahu.

At about 5 p.m., two women approached a West Puainako Street resident and told her that they desperately needed to use the bathroom. One of the women went inside to use the bathroom, while the second woman distracted the resident outside, police said.

Within a few minutes the woman came out, and both left in a red hatchback or station wagon. The victim found that a handbag with some cash had been taken.

About two hours earlier, two women claiming to be relatives approached residents of a West Kawailani Street home. The women persuaded the residents to let them inside. Once inside, one woman said she needed to use the bathroom, while the second woman distracted the senior citizens, police said.

The pair left in a red or maroon four-door sedan. The house occupants subsequently discovered that some money had been taken.

One victim said the women appeared to be relatives.

Police described one suspect as 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds, between 30 and 40 years old, with a fair complexion. She was wearing light-colored clothing and appeared to be pregnant.

The second woman was about 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing about 130 pounds, between 30 and 40 years old, with a fair complexion. She also wore light-colored clothing.

Police said the description of the woman was nearly identical in both cases.

Police are warning the public to not let strangers into their homes for any reason. Anyone approached by suspicious individuals should politely refuse and try to get a description of the suspects and their transportation, then call police.

Honolulu police said the scams have increased slightly in East Oahu over the last four months.

On Tuesday in Palolo an 80-year-old woman reported she was swindled when a group of women approached her in her yard. One of the women asked to use the bathroom, and two other women distracted her. After they left, she found her purse was missing.

Anyone with information about the Hilo burglaries should call Officer Chris Kapua-Allison or Anson Caceres in Hilo at 961-2213, Hilo police at 935-3311 or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.