Across the Area

Police battle “gypsy” scams

GARDEN GROVE and Westminster police have teamed up to combat crime by “gypsy crews” that often target elderly Asian-Americans (Shutterstock).

Police in Garden Grove and Westminster are working together – along with Orange County Auto Theft Task Force – to respond to a rash of robberies by “gypsy crews” who travel around running various dishonest routines to rob or defraud their victims.

According to the GGPD, there have been numerous reports of these kinds of incidents, aimed mainly at elderly Asian-Americans. Various distraction methods are used to remove a victim’s jewelry and replace it with counterfeit items. In some instances, the perpetrators would “aggressively and forcefully” take the property off the victim, causing injuries.

This week, detectives arrested members of a two-person “crew” in the act of robbing a victim and seeking to flee. The suspected male driver and female thief were arrested and charged with robbery, conspiracy and possession of stolen property. Charges of child endangerment  are also possible, as two young children were in the suspect vehicle at the time of the incident.

The term “gypsy” refers to any traveling group of “confidence” and deception thieves, and not the semi-nomadic Romany people of Eastern Europe who have been accused of thefts and other illegal or anti-social behavior, often without reason.

In the past, typical “gypsy” scams have included phony driveway seal coating scams and contractors who go door-to-door to offer to repair roofs, siding or driveways for a low price. The scam is they demand payment in advance and either do a substandard job or never do the work at all.

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