It usually starts with a knock. Then comes a request to head to the backyard.
The reasoning sounds legit: A leak inspection, a property-line check or maybe a tree needs trimming…
But, "While they're distracting the homeowner in the back yard, two or three other suspects will enter the front of the home," said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Cristen Rensel.
You can probably guess what they're doing inside.
Since January, deputies in Pinellas County have seen five cases of these distraction schemes. They have all taken place in the southern part of the county, and therefore may be related.
Officials in Sarasota are also putting the alert out.
"Detectives feel people are putting their guard down," Rensel said.
But it looks like the alert could put an end to that.
"I just think they're low. I think a thief is low,” said Pinellas County homeowner Allen Jenkins. “They're lower than a liar; I hate a liar, but I hate a thief worse.”
Jenkins said he always checks workers IDs when they come to his house, and that's exactly what law enforcement recommends.
As a retired sanitation worker for Pinellas Park, Jenkins is familiar with showing his credentials.
"A reputable place- they'll give you a phone number. They'll show a picture ID card. It’s not something they made up at home with their name on it," he said.
Officials say IDs were not shown in all five cases.
As far as tracking the suspects goes, officials believe they rode up to their targets in a black truck.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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