Written by Darla Shumway
Many Wolf Point residents have recently been victims of a crime the police have deemed as the “knock and rob.”
It’s a simple concept: a person knocks on a resident’s door and uses a variety of means to gain access to the home in order to steal whatever they can in a short amount of time.
It may seem a little too simple, but the perpetrators of the crimes have been known to use elaborate excuses and claim they need emergency assistance in order to convince even the most skeptical to open their doors with a warm welcome.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada stated some of the most common excuses used by the knock and robbers are: asking for a glass of water to take medication, asking to use the bathroom, inquiring about house-cleaning jobs, and inquiring about whether or not someone is home and stating they were supposed to give or sell something to the person in question. Harada said they would also claim to be selling beadwork and artwork, or feigning illness in order to get in the house. Basically, those employing these tactics will say just about anything to get their foot in the door, literally.
Once they’re in, the suspect will often distract the homeowner in some way and look for cash, checkbooks, medications, and other small, but valuable items to steal.
Unfortunately, adults aren’t the only ones committing these types of deceptive crimes. Harada said young adults and minors have allegedly tried their hand at it, and they use a somewhat different style of manipulation. Several young people have reportedly asked residents to complete chores for them, like mowing the lawn or shoveling the driveway, and then robbing the homeowner once they’ve gained access to the house. Young adults have also been known to actually mow a victim’s lawn and then proceed to steal the lawnmower.
Harada warned Wolf Point residents to be wary of those offering to complete these types of tasks. He said to be aware of whether or not the young person would even be equipped to complete the chores they are offering, and if they don’t seem to be, don’t let them in the house.
Private residents aren’t the only targets of the deceptive behavior. Several businesses have been the victims of back checks recently. Harada said businesses need to be aware of two-party checks, and checks not written for the amount of the purchase. He also said to always request photo identification when accepting a check.
Multiple people in the Wolf Point area have been cited for these crimes, one of the most frequent offenders being 29-year-old Loni Lilley. Lilley was charged last week after allegedly entering three separate homes. She faces three counts of theft and one count of forgery.
Harada urged community members to not allow strangers in their households and to lock all vehicles at night. If the stranger claims to have an emergency, offer to call 911 for them, but do not offer access to your home. Harada also requested that Wolf Point residents report any suspicious behavior, be it a person walking a lawnmower, or trying to get cash-back from a $200 check on a $20 purchase.