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Capital Region police probe cases of 'distraction burglaries'

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CAPITAL REGION (WRGB) - Multiple police agencies are now investigating more distraction burglaries they believe are connected, making a dozen different incidents.

The suspects have been posing as official utility workers while one distracts to homeowner, saying they have to check something inside, and another goes in and steals things. There's the possibility of multiple suspects working together across a number of spots.

"It makes it difficult," said North Greenbush Police Chief David Keevern.

Keevern says the investigation into two incidents in his town last week is now much larger.

"We are seeing some commonalities between the newer incidents and our incidents," Keevern said.

This week, police located the vehicle the suspects who burglarized two North Greenbush homes used. It was a rental car from Massachusetts. But now, police believe they have a different car and they've returned to the area, targeting all elderly victims.

"We do believe it is still them or at least from the same ring as them," Keevern said.

The spree spread to Colonie.

"All appear to be of the same nature," Colonie Lt. Bob Winn said. "[On Thursday], the con was that there was a power outage or going to be one and they had to get inside to check the panel."

Colonie police are investigating two burglaries and two attempts. More than $4,000 was taken from the two houses. Colonie Police posted surveillance photos of the car to Facebook.

"We figured with the fact that now that we've had more than one, put it out there and let social media do its magic," Winn said.

In recent incidents, police say a white male suspect was working with at least one other person over a two-way radio. They describe the man in his 40's, wearing a t-shirt, vest, gloves and a baseball hat. The vehicle was a white small SUV likely with out-of-state plates. It hit another home in Bethlehem on Thursday.

"The most important thing is sharing information," said Bethlehem Police Commander Adam Hornick.

Hornick says immediately after a woman in her 70s had money stolen from her house on Thursday in the same manner, the department alerted other agencies.

"The agencies are great working together. We know each other from working other cases together and also using the Capital Region Crime Analysis Center," Hornick said.

All remind residents to stay vigilant and call officials if someone suspicious shows up at your door.

"If you're skeptical and things don't seem right, they probably aren't. That's what it comes down to," Hornick said.

Each agency is confident in the information they're reviewing and believe they're close to pinpointing at least some of the suspects and connecting them to the rest.

MORE: North Greenbush Police: 'Distraction burglaries' may be part of criminal ring



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