That’s not the gas man: Distraction burglars strike Silver Lake & Hi-Fi

NeighborhoodWatchLogo.JPGMen posing as Gas Co. workers made off with cash and jewelry in two separate burglaries last week after they distracted elderly victims in Silver Lake and Historic Filipinotown. On Jan. 14, an elderly couple in their 80s living in the 900 block of Silver Lake Boulevard fell victim to five men who said they had come to inspect a report of a gas leak inside the house, according to a police report provided by officer Mario Mota of the Rampart Division. A few days earlier, an elderly woman in the 100 block of N. Rampart Blvd. permitted a man who said he was a gas company employee to enter her backyard.  After the man was asked to leave, the woman discovered that her house had been ransacked, with money and jewelry missing.


  1. Is anyone doing anything to warn the elderly about these distraction burglaries? I’ve seen a lot on blogs and emails, but not sure if that will reach the people who really need the information.

  2. This is really hard for older folks, knowing who they can and can’t trust at the door.

    But … ” Hi-Fi”? Really?

  3. Recently a well-dressed man presented himself at my house where my daughter is living saying he was the Gas Co. and needed to change out the copper wiring, or something to that effect. Apparently all kinds of people are trying to rob people who don’t suspect anything. Luckily my daughter didn’t believe him and turned him away.
    Are we seeing more of this because of the recession and lack of jobs?
    And we need some sort of community outreach to warn folks.

  4. Unfortunately, nefarious thieves such as these prey on the elderly, who are often trusting of those who falsely claim to work for utility companies. Not only are they harmful to their victims, it makes it difficult for legitimate hard-working utility and natural gas employees to do their jobs properly. Please, watch out for your neighbors, and especially our elderly neighbors, friends and relatives.

    The LAPD does outreach through placing flyers, in English and Spanish, in utility bills. A press conference was held to announce our efforts to combat these distraction burglaries. We also liaison with health care and service providers who deal with elderly clientele. Tips on identifying fraudulent DWP suspects:


    The Southern California Gas Company also addresses how to recognize their employees on their website:


    (213) 484-3400

  5. Since they seem to prey on the elderly who may not use the internet and be aware of this, The Gas Co should put some kind of warning/alert in with the bills they send out to let customers know that people have been impersonating Gas Co workers, letting people know what ID to ask for and a providing number to call if they have any questions/concerns. They should print the warning in red ink or highlight it in some way so people notice it.

  6. On our ExP block of 2300 Vestal Ave. there have been “AT&T” reps going door to door promoting the digital service. Two neighbors have been approached by a man claiming to be from AT&T- both neighbors, one elderly, haven’t believed the man. One of the neighbors lives behind two fences, down a walkway, and has barking dogs-requiring someone to make a great effort to get to the door. The man showed up at 7:30pm- twice within the week. We’re close neighbors and inform each other- but what should we do?
    A man fitting a different description and with a photo badge (real?) showed up on my doorstep and seemed legit. We talked for +10 mins about ATT&T service, etc… Can anyone confirm if AT&T is in the neighborhood trying to get people to sign on to the U-Verse?

  7. Geocode,

    If you feel these solicitors are illegitimate, call either 911 or 311, if you feel uncomfortable calling the emergency number. Advise the person answering your call that you are aware of distraction burglars operating in the area per your local station, and a unit will be dispatched. If they are in fact solicitors, no harm is done. It is not necessary for an officer to contact you at your door. If they need further information, you can request they can telephone you.

    (213) 484-3400

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