It’s a scenario which has been reported frequently in recent months. A woman stops someone outside a business, or knocks on a door, asking for money to buy diapers or formula for her baby. The ruse was halted, at least temporarily, recently when two sisters were arrested for stealing from an elderly couple.
According to Police Chief Rick Baker the police department received a call earlier this month from an elderly couple reporting a purse and wallet had been stolen from their home. They said a young female carrying an infant showed up at their door and asked to do work for money.
Baker said the woman told the couple she needed to buy formula and diapers for her baby. She made a convincing pitch, so much so that the older woman offered to drive to a nearby store and purchase the items. After the couple let the woman and baby into their house, she asked to use the bathroom. When the homeowner left to go to the store to buy the seemingly needed items she realized her purse and wallet were missing.
Police records show that as the couple were looking for the misplaced purse, the younger woman excused herself by saying she needed to step out to the car for something. She went to the car, where another female was waiting in the driver’s seat, and they quickly left.
The couple gave a good description of the car. The officer who took the initial report located the car at an address in town. When he spoke with the suspect she denied any knowledge of the incident.
But, Baker said, investigators with the department contacted the woman sometime later and asked her to come to the police station to discuss the matter. She showed up with her sister and a small child. As it happened, the sister was quickly identified as previously soliciting money from city residents. Officers interviewed both women, and after initially denying any theft it was eventually determined they had stolen the woman’s purse and wallet … and the sister had been the one waiting out in the car.
Additionally, it was discovered the sister had previously visited the home asking for money, and had referred the address to her younger sibling. When questioned by police the older sister admitted disposing of the purse.
Both sisters, ages 23 and 27 and showing the same address, were arrested, processed and released pending the application for warrants. The chief said charges being sought on the duo include felony stealing, financial exploitation of the elderly, and endangering the welfare of a child.
“We’ve had several reports in the past several months where individuals were soliciting for money, diapers, etc.,” Baker said. “The city does not have an ordinance prohibiting someone from asking an individual to help them monetarily or with the purchase of items. But there are some things a person can do if put in that position.”
He suggested that if approached by someone claiming a need, refer the person to the Farmington Ministerial Alliance or the police department. The ministerial alliance can provide vouchers for some goods or services in cases of emergencies or obvious need. Also, the police department works closely with the alliance to refer people who they find who have a legitimate need.
One last suggestion is to never give cash when asked. If you feel like you want to handle the apparent need without sending the person on to the ministerial alliance or police department, make a point of obtaining and giving the goods instead of just giving cash to be spent to buy the goods.
The police chief said another scam which has been reported to police several times in recent months involves a scammer approaching shoppers coming out of a store and offering the story that the scammer’s mother is seriously ill in a St. Louis area hospital and he or she needs gas money to visit her.
Any suspected scams can be reported to the police department by calling (573) 756-6686.