The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

North Side Robberies Latest in Impersonator Crimes

By Olivia Leigh in News on Nov 10, 2006 6:18PM

The next time someone comes to your house or apartment to do a repair or fix a broken lock, you may want to be a little extra cautious about letting him or her inside your home.

CBS 2 reports that seven robberies occurred in North Side homes between Oct. 15 and Nov. 3 by robbers posing as employees of utility companies, tree cutters or construction contractors.

The robberies took place in neighborhoods across the area, including the Clybourn Corridor, Roscoe Village, East Lakeview, Uptown, Andersonville and West Rogers Park.

Arriving at the residences saying they needed to make repairs to a fence, gate or other property, trusting homeowners allowed the men into the house. After being let in, one robber would distract the victim while the other burglarized the house.

News of these attacks are the latest in “impersonator crimes” that have been on the rise over the past few years in the city and across the country. In January, CBS 2 also reported that more than 1,000 incidents of police impersonation were reported in Chicagoland in three years, with many more going unreported.

In police impersonator cases, individuals will often purchase badges from security companies or online, despite a state law that makes it a crime to sell fake badges on the internet. Preying on citizen trust, many of the impersonators then wield the badges to attack or rob, often after pulling them over on the side of the road after using fake flashing lights.

Although the state has ramped up penalities for individuals posing as police officers and firefighters, taking some simple steps to protect yourself is a worthwhile precaution.

For service workers, you should always ask for a company ID card. If they are suspicious, write down vehicle information and a subject description and call the police. For information about how to deal with a possible police impersonator, this site has useful information.