Police: Beware pair posing as vacuum sellers

01/11/2013 1:41 PM

01/11/2013 1:43 PM

One or more groups of people posing as vacuum salespeople are actually burglars who have struck dozens of times since early November, Wichita police said Friday.

The burglaries are occurring “all over” the city, Lt. Doug Nolte said. Three cases were reported Thursday alone — two in far west Wichita and another in southeast Wichita.

“The troubling thing is we weren’t aware of it,” Nolte said. “It’s far-reaching throughout the city. All areas of the city are being hit.”

The suspects — most often a man and woman — go door-to-door in neighborhoods, posing as salespeople for Kirby vacuum cleaners, Nolte said.

“They’re not dressed very well,” Nolte said of the suspects. “They don’t have any kind of ID. They don’t typically have vacuums.

“They’re certainly not dressed in any kind of professional sales outfits that identify them with Kirby.”

The suspects are using the door-to-door stops to figure out who is at home during the day and who is not, Nolte said. They then return to an area two or three weeks later, break into the unoccupied houses and steal cash and small items of value such as jewelry.

The most frequent point of entry has been a back door or a basement, Nolte said.

Kirby salespeople are well-dressed and always carry identification that clearly indicates they work for the company, Kirby officials have told police. But Kirby hasn’t had door-to-door salespeople operating in Wichita since 2009, Nolte said.

Descriptions of the suspects vary widely, Nolte said, giving rise to the possibility that multiple duos are working the same scam across the city.

“What we need the public’s help with right now is getting a handle on where and how often this group or groups has been seen,” Nolte said. “We don’t know how far-spread it is.”

Some people have called Kirby’s local office to ask if they have salesmen going door-to-door but haven’t called police, he said.

Investigators suspect many people have been targeted by these burglars and don’t realize it, Nolte said. Anyone who has had contact with people attempting to sell vacuums door-to-door is encouraged to call the case desk at 316-268-4221 or the burglary section at 316-268-4141.

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