Farmington woman latest victim of 'fence scam'

Police say while 1 person distracts victim, another goes into home to commit robbery

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

FARMINGTON, Mich. - It's a crime that is gaining traction across metro Detroit: crooks posing as fence contractors and keeping their victims distracted while robbing them blind. And last Friday, 76-year-old Celie became the latest victim. 

"I had a gut feeling. I had a dandelion digger in my hand and I wouldn't set that down," the Farmington woman told Local 4.

The Farmington Public Safety Department said around 1:30 pm, Celie was in her front yard doing yard work when a man approached her and said he needed to take measurements for a new fence.

"He walked up to me and said my neighbors are putting in a new fence and he was going to need to measure and look at which trees to cut down," Celie said.

That's when the man went with Celie to her backyard, engaged her in conversation and even asked her to help. 

"He asked me to the hold the tape measurer to help him and I was thinking to myself this is so stupid and he just kept talking to distract me," Celie said.  

Finally the man, described as Hispanic, left -- But that's when Celie noticed her front door was open. 

"I thought I was losing my mind," she said. "But when I went in, a pillow case was gone from my back room and my dresser didn't look right. They took all of the Christmas money I was saving."

Police said they think a second person entered the home to commit the theft while the first man acted as a distraction.

Police don't have a description of whoever went into Celie's home. One neighbor told investigators they saw a woman leaving the home carrying a bag. 

Police have released a picture of a black pick up truck that could be involved in the crime and want everyone to be on the lookout.

Back in August, 82-year-old Norm Ream of St. Clair Shores was a victim of the exact same crime.

Read story: Elderly St. Clair Shores couple robbed by fake fence worker

Now multiple police agencies are working together to compare evidence.

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