A 47-year-old Sammamish woman was at her boyfriend’s house in Bremerton playing a video game when there was a knock on the door about 8 p.m.
She opened the door to a young woman who asked the couple if she could use a telephone. As the Sammamish woman was walking to get her cell phone, the visitor came into the house, saying it was cold, asked for a drink of water and if she could move some items from a chair to sit down for a minute.
After using the phone, she said she couldn’t reach anyone and asked where the nearest store was. They gave her directions and she left. The man in the house noticed she ran down the street and his girlfriend discovered her wallet was missing.
The thief got away.
Now these people had to be mighty careless in surveillance of a stranger in their house, but the trick of the thief is distraction.
One of the things I have harped on during my many years in the column business is — do not open your door to strangers at any time, until you ascertain whether they have legitimate business.
People do it all the time, and sometimes get killed for it — particularly old people who are as trusting as it was possible to be back in the good old days when nobody locked their doors and left windows open at night.
In these days of widespread drug use and the need for users to come up with large sums of money to feed their habit, burglaries and robberies are common.
I keep my doors locked day and night, and when there is a knock I look out a window next to the front door to see who it is.
If it’s a stranger, he — it’s usually a he — is greeted with “Who are you and what do you want?” through the door. “You represent what? Let me see your ID. Hold it up.”
Asking to use the phone is an old dodge, and if you hand your cell phone out the door to a stranger, you risk his pushing his way in or departing with your phone.
Another dodge is a woman with a couple of kids asking to use the bathroom. The kids distract you to get them a drink of water in the kitchen while she goes to the bathroom, making a pass by your bedroom to grab any money or jewelry.
Most of us keep valuables in a bureau drawer, never dreaming that being a good Samaritan could expose you to their theft.
It’s a natural impulse when answering a knock at the door to open it and see who it is. Well, learn to curb that impulse.
Ask who it is, and if the story is the person needs to use the phone or has been in a car wreck or something and needs help, answer, “I’ll call 911 for you,” or “I’ll let you in as soon as I get my gun.”
That may dissuade phonies.
I keep a rifle that I’m familiar with where I can get at it in a hurry and shells at hand. I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to shoot anyone who tried to force his way into my home.
Here’s another problem that might happen in your family some day. My brother lives in King County and his wife’s aunt is in a nursing home.
She can get out and around with people and a man who’s not a resident has taken to calling on her and other elderly women at the home and giving them gifts, taking them to lunch.
His attentiveness is suspicious to the family, but not to the old ladies, who love the extra attention.
The family can’t order him made persona non grata to the home because the women like him and trust him.
Privacy laws prevent having the home check up on him and his visits are not known ahead of time so the family could be there to meet him. The home is not near their home so it’s not easy to do a stakeout.
They did, however, warn their aunt’s bank to be on the lookout for any suspicious withdrawals from her accounts.
Crazy world, isn’t it? And getting crazier all the time.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, Wa., 98340.