Police in the East Bay are investigating reports of robbers posing as Animal Control workers, ringing door bells, warning of poisonous snakes and then taking cash and valuables.
Fremont police say burglars posing as Animal Services workers were prowling several neighborhoods in that city on Saturday. They say, at about 5 p.m., a woman and her supposed supervisor told a homeowner that they were looking for a rattlesnake that bit a young girl.
The suspect told the 70-year-old victim they needed to get in the home to measure her backyard in order to place some traps.
"While they were out in the backyard doing the measurements, an accomplice came in through the front door and stole jewelry and cash from the home,” Fremont police spokesperson Geneva Bosques said.
Officers are also investigating a similar scam attempt earlier the same day in Niles.
"They went door to door and said there was a snake and they needed to go in the back and set traps,” Bosques said.
But in that case the neighbor got suspicious and didn’t let the woman in.
In both cases, the suspect, a woman wearing brown khakis, claimed to be with Fremont Animal Services. Her snake story was detailed and so was her disguise, right down to her black gloves, a lanyard with an ID and a fake patch on her shoulder.
The real Animal Services employees wear a police patch, carry photo IDs and drive vehicles marked with the city's emblem.
Police say the scams are an important reminder to ask questions. They are advising residents that city employees are required to carry a badge with a photo ID.
"Ask for a supervisor, ask for a phone number before letting someone in your door,” Bosques said. "And remember, city employees always tell you if they are coming there.”
The same snake scam was apparently attempted in Union City on Wednesday, according to police. There, another female suspect told a homeowner on Deborah Drive that she was at the house to check for snakes. During the snake check, the house was robbed.
Police are still looking for the suspects.