Police are warning Delaware County residents about “gypsy”-style scam artists they say are especially active during the spring and summer.
Several thieves are posing as home improvement workers and scamming homeowners in Radnor Township and the surrounding area, especially the elderly, police said.
In one case, three thieves scammed an elderly woman in Marple Township out of $1,100 and sprayed her driveway with old motor oil, police said.
Investigators say such thieves often refer to themselves as “travelers” or “Irish travelers” and go door to door, offering to pave or seal driveways for a cheap price.
“The travelers will want payment up front and prefer cash but will often times accept a check,” police warned. “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 substandard materials.”
Police say the thieves then cut contact, and the homeowners are unable to find them to get a refund or repair the job. Police say the scam artists cash the checks before victims are able to stop payments, normally using fictitious names or other people' names.
Police also say during some incidents the thieves walked into the homes of the residents to steal money and jewelry. When caught, the thieves either made an excuse or fled the scene, according to investigators. None of the reported incidents were violent, however.
Police are warning homeowners always to keep their doors locked and to be suspicious of anyone who approaches them with an offer that sounds too good to be true.
They also advise homeowners always to check references and go through their town’s business bureau to investigate the company. Finally, they advise homeowners never to pay for work in advance and to always wait to pay at the conclusion of the job.
If you have any questions or information on the scam artists, call Radnor Police at 610-688-0500.