- Tuesday March 20th, 2012 :: 11:04 a.m. EDT
Gypsy and Traveler Scams: Awareness and Prevention
“Gypsy and Traveler Scams”
Every spring and summer, most metropolitan areas have an increase in “gypsy and traveler” activity. To law enforcement agencies, the word "gypsy" refers to people who travel in small groups across the country perpetrating crimes of theft, burglary, and fraud. Over the past several summers, the Columbia area and other communities have been victims of what have become known as "gypsy scams". Gypsy scams are incidents that occur in daylight hours, in which a suspect will, literally, walk right into someone’s home for the purpose of stealing jewelry or money. Very often, the homeowner is either in or near the home. If these individuals are caught, they give some kind of excuse as to why they are in the home or on the property. So far, these individuals have not been violent and usually run from the residence as soon as they are discovered. The best way to keep these individuals from victimizing you is to simply keep your home locked, even when you are working in the yard. Remember, anytime you are outside your home, you cannot possibly see every door that a would-be thief might enter. During this same time of year, traveling home improvement workers, often called “Travelers or Irish Travelers,” invade communities throughout the area preying upon unsuspecting homeowners, often times the elderly, going door to door offering to pave or seal driveways at a very cheap price. The Travelers will want payment up front and prefer cash but will often times accept a check. The Travelers will tell the homeowners they have patch left over from a previous job. Most homeowners who hire the traveling workers experience shoddy work with sub-standard materials. Then the victim cannot locate the workers for a refund or to repair the job. When victims try to stop payment on the check, it already has been cashed, and the name on the check usually is fictitious or belongs to an uninvolved third party. Homeowners should be suspicious of anyone who knocks on their door with offers that sound “too good to be true”. Please remember, homeowners should at least always ask for a business license, any legitimate business is required to have a City of Cayce business license. Requiring a business license helps to protect the business owner and the consumer. A valid business license is required and violators can be cited under city ordinance for failing to comply. If a person comes to your residence soliciting for business and they cannot provide a business license, immediately call the Cayce Department of Public Safety and ask for an officer to be dispatched to your location to investigate the person. If the person leaves prior to the officer’s arrival, try to obtain a vehicle license number, description of the vehicle, description of the person, and a direction of travel so that responding officers will have pertinent information to possibly locate the person. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to check out a company and their reputation. Finally, never pay for work in advance; always pay at the conclusion of the job. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If see suspicious activity in your neighborhood immediately contact the Cayce Department of Public Safety at 803-794-0456 or if it is an emergency, call 911, by doing so you could be preventing a crime. For other crime prevention information or a residential security survey, contact the Cayce Department Public Safety Community Services Unit at 803-739-0684.
Cayce Department of Public Safety
2 Lavern Jumper Road
Cayce, SC 29033