SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – An older woman’s home near Winter Park was burglarized after she let someone claiming to work for the YMCA enter her backyard, the sheriff’s office said.
According to investigators, the burglary happened around 5 p.m. Thursday on Eastbrook Boulevard near Winter Park in unincorporated Seminole County.
[TRENDING: Boy undergoes emergency 9-hour brain surgery during vacation in Orlando | Wild Florida workers shoot, kill white rhino after it escapes its enclosure | Become a News 6 Insider]
Deputies said they responded to the location after receiving a call from the victim’s daughter, Teresa Hood, who reported several items stolen from her 91-year-old mother’s home.
“Obviously, she’s devastated. It’s heartbreaking,” Hood said in an interview with News 6. “She waitressed until she was 79 for the items that she had to pass onto her grandchildren and children.”
An incident report shows the victim was outside in her carport watering her plants when she was approached by an unknown woman with black hair wearing a hoodie and jeans who arrived in a white four-door sedan.
The woman informed the victim she worked for the abandoned YMCA located at 3510 Tourney Drive, deputies said. She told Jan that her backyard meets the property line of the YMCA location and she needed to assess it, the report continues.
Watch News 6+ in the player below for live news and original programming:
According to the report, the victim then escorted the woman through the left side of her property, watching as she assessed the tree that split the two properties and took a few calls on her cellphone for the next 20 to 30 minutes. The victim also said the woman was in her line of sight during the entire interaction.
“They were talking about the things they were gonna do and the parking lot they were gonna put in the driveway,” Hood said. “And she’s got a tree that the YMCA has neglected that’s destroying her fence and they were going to take that tree down.”
Hood added the fact that a representative from the organization seemed legitimate since she’s had to call the YMCA several times regarding code violations stemming from the abandoned property.
When the unknown woman left, the victim entered her home and found several items out of place and missing in her bedroom, cabinets and purse, totaling between $750 and $5,000, according to the report.
Deputies said since multiple valuable items were also untouched, they searched the home in case the victim just misplaced them, but did not find the missing items. The victim added that while she didn’t see a second person with the suspected burglar, she believes the woman may have been used as a distraction while someone else broke into her home and stole from her, the report shows.
According to deputies, they later reached out to the owner of the abandoned YMCA, who said they were in the process of selling and demolishing the property. A spokesperson for the YMCA told News 6 they hadn’t sent anyone from their organization to the victim’s home.
“Thank you for reaching out. The Y did not send a representative to... Eastbrook Blvd in Winter Park to discuss the Y’s Eastbrook property. We are saddened to read someone misrepresented the YMCA and our thoughts are with the resident who was victimized. It is standard practice that our employees and representatives show authentication that they are affiliated with the YMCA when they engage with neighbors in the community.”Mary Ilarraza, Communications Manager, YMCA of Central Florida
Deputies are currently investigating a burglary of a dwelling and grand theft between $750 and $5,000.
“It’s a violation. We’ve had things in place for her safety and security. It’s all been stepped up,” Hood said. “She’s not going to be a victim again. She’s not letting this get her down, but as her family and friends, we’re devastated for her.”
Seminole County Sheriff’s Office also offered tips to prevent others from becoming distraction burglary victims.
When someone comes to your door posing as a gas or water company agent, door-to-door salesperson, charity representative, council worker, builder or gardener or someone who needs your help, the sheriff’s office said you should follow these steps.
- Don’t allow the stranger into your home unless you have an arranged appointment and expect someone to be there
- Call for help if you suspect the visitor
- Check their IDs
- If they pretend to be a police officer, call 911 to cross-check immediately
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: