The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about distraction burglaries, a common but preventable crime this time of year.

A distraction burglary occurs when one suspect contacts the homeowner and identifies themselves as a utility worker, salesperson or laborer. Once inside the house they distract residents and steer them away from the door so another suspect can sneak inside and steal valuables, or they say they have to go to a specific room to look at something and do so themselves. Others take residents outside under the guise of showing them needed repairs while someone undetected enters the home.

To protect yourself, never open the door for someone who arrives unannounced and never allow them into your home. If they claim to be from a business ask them to leave a card in your door. Never allow someone to perform home repairs on the spot and after they leave check their reputation with the Better Business Bureau or county government. If someone claims they need assistance, tell them you will contact the sheriff’s office to help them.

If you are concerned, try to get a tag number and description of the vehicle they are driving. Notify law enforcement so deputies can determine the real reason the person or persons are in your neighborhood. Call either 911 or the non-emergency number 941.316.1201.