La Jolla Crime and Public-Safety News: Aug. 29 - ‘Water Dept.’ scam and ‘grandpa’ phone scam hits La Jollans

To report a non-emergency crime, call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1.
(La Jolla Light File Photo)

‘Water Department’ scam hits second La Jolla home

A scam leading to the theft of cash and jewelry that struck in the Bird Rock community Aug. 1, struck again Aug. 9, also in La Jolla, San Diego Police report.

In the scam, two male suspects claim to be from the water department under the guise of conducting a water test. In both incidences, the victim allowed the two men to enter and once inside, the suspects distracted the victim by turning on various faucets inside and outside the home, while they took turns going into different rooms. The two suspects stole jewelry and cash.

Both targets were elderly persons, and were visited during the day.

Suspect No. 1 is described as a dark-skin male, approximately 30 years old, 5-foot-6-inches, 160 pounds, with a well-manicured beard. Suspect No. 2 is described as a dark-skin male, approximately 40 years old, 6-foot, 210 pounds, heavier set, with no facial hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call the SDPD’s Elder Abuse Unit at (619) 446-1070 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

Police would like to remind community members that this tactic is a common ruse for criminals: “Be cautious when unknown persons are asking to come into your home under the pretense they work for City departments, utility companies or construction companies,” the department said in a statement. “It is best to always ask for a picture identification from an individual and deny access to your home if you cannot confirm they are there for a legitimate reason.”

City Public Utilities Department workers will never go into a residence unless an appointment has been made by the resident. Workers will always arrive in a City vehicle marked with the City of San Diego logo. If a resident is approached by someone who identifies themselves as being from the water department, the resident can always call the Public Utilities Department at (619) 515-3525. The operator can verify the employment status of any employee and can also verify if work is scheduled.

Resident targeted by ‘grandpa’ phone scam

A distressingly common phone scam hit a La Jolla resident last week, in which the caller pretended to be a relative asking for money.

“I had heard of this scam before, but this was the first time it had ever been pulled on me,” the resident told La Jolla Light. “The caller was sneezing and coughing and saying ‘hi grandpa’ and ‘can you hear me?’ and kept cutting me off when I asked who it was by saying ‘can you hear me?’ ”

The caller claimed to be the resident’s grandson, stating he had been arrested for drinking with some friends, and needed money to get him and a friend out of jail.

“I kept saying ‘who is this?’ and ‘what is your name?’ and he said ‘can’t you recognize my voice, it’s Matthew’ and I don’t have a grandson named Matthew, so I asked for a phone number to call back and he hung up,” the resident said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or friend desperate for money, take the following steps:

Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.

Verify the person’s identity by asking questions a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.

Phone your family member or friend’s number that you know to be genuine.

Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.

Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.

Report possible fraud at or 1(877) FTC-HELP.

Police Blotter

Aug. 6

Vandalism ($400 or less), 700 block Bonair Way, noon

Aug. 15

Open container in park, 7000 block Vista del Mar Ave., 4:15 p.m.; 7000 block Vista del Mar Ave., 4:30 p.m.; 7000 block Vista del Mar Ave., 4:35 p.m.; 6700 block Neptune Place, 5:20 p.m.

Aug. 17

Vehicle break-in, 8300 block Via Sonoma, 7 a.m.

Grand theft, over $950, 8900 block Gilman Drive, noon

Battery, 2800 block Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, 12:35 p.m.

Aug. 18

Commercial robbery, no weapon, 8600 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 1:05 a.m.

Grand theft, 6200 block Draper Ave., 9:10 a.m.

Open container in park, 4000 block Ocean Blvd., 1:42 p.m.; 300 block Marine St., 3:05 p.m.

Aug. 19

Vandalism ($400 or less), 8100 block Gilman Court, 5:40 a.m.

Vehicle break-in, 8100 block Gilman Court, 6:30 a.m.

Aug. 20

Vehicle break-in, 8200 block La Vereda, 9 a.m.

Aug. 21

Vandalism ($400 or more), 300 block Playa del Norte, 10 p.m.

Threaten with intent to terrorize, 1100 block Tourmaline St., 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 22

Commercial burglary, 1000 block Prospect St., 6:12 p.m. Aug. 23

Vehicle stolen, 8500 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 10 a.m.

Battery on elder with no injury/minor injury, 2500 block Torrey Pines Road, 1 p.m.

Battery, 700 block Turquoise St., 3:35 p.m.

Aug. 24

Use of controlled substance, 8600 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 3:25 a.m.

Vehicle break-in, Neptune Place at Westbourne Street, 6:30 p.m.

Aug. 25

Fraud, 6000 block Firwood Row, 8 a.m.

Vehicle stolen, 1200 block Coast Blvd., 7 p.m.

Vehicle break-in, 6200 block Avenida Cresta, 9 p.m.

Aug. 26

Vehicle break-in, 300 block Rosemont St., 2 a.m.

Commercial burglary, 7400 block Girard Ave., 6:10 a.m.

Compiled by Ashley Mackin-Solomon from police and other local reports.