Self-Proclaimed "Gypsies" Bilking Tucsonans

By Som Lisaius, KOLD News 13

We've all heard tales about gypsies and their mysterious ways, though there's a good chance, many of those stories aren't true. But these people really do exist. Historically, they date all the way back to 14th Century Europe. Now a group of self-proclaimed gypsies is in Tucson today.

Their faces look like anybody else's here, but police say these individuals, all Romanian citizens, are a modern take on notorious gypsies of old.

"They'll look for checkbooks, jewelry...anything that they think they can convert to money," says Sgt. Mark Robinson of the Tucson Police Department.

But in order to get these items, they have to get into your home first. And they do so by impersonating maintenance men, contractors...even somebody interested in buying a vehicle.

"Oftentimes when they make contact with their alleged victims, they have children with them," says Sgt. Robinson. "People drop their guards when there's children around. They think okay, here's a mother or a father with their child, and it brings out the best in people."

They'll use anything and everything to divert your attention. And all it takes is an unsuspecting victim who lets them in.

"I think it's a dirty shame," says an 89-year-old victim who wishes to remain anonymous. "I really do." Last November, the woman opened her door to three men who said they worked with the city water department. They noticed a leak in her backyard and offered to fix it.

"I said how much will that cost and he said, 'about four hundred dollars.'" Without any cash, the men bullied her into signing a check. Reluctantly she did, and later that day, her bank called inquiring about a suspicious amount. "How much did they try to cash it for?," KOLD asked her. "Seven thousand dollars," the woman said.

Due to insufficient funds, the check wasn't cashed. And no money was lost. But this woman is one of the lucky ones. Michael Cook and Steve John are currently in custody charged with fraud, theft and burglary. But these people are still out there, preying on anyone who'll answer an unsolicited knock.

Says Sgt. Robinson, "If somebody contacts you and wants to buy something that you're not advertising for sale, that's the red flag you should be looking for."

If you're a victim or have any information about these people, you're asked to call 911 or 88-Crime. A reward up to $1,000 will go to the person whose tip leads to an arrest.

You can remain anonymous. It isn't who you are, it's what you know that could help solve these cases.

This is yet another of those news reports appertaining to Romani-Gypsies that no one would dare to print is such a way would it be a group of Jews or other ethnicity, bar may be Hispanics, being involved. But, as per usual, it is OK when it is only "dirty Gyppos".