Pinecrest police search for 'gypsy burglars' accused of stealing woman's wedding rings
Group believed to be involved in burglaries throughout South Florida
PINECREST, Fla. – A group of "gypsy burglars" burglarized the home of a 70-year-old woman last month using a distraction scam, Pinecrest police said.
Detectives are searching for three men: Skippy Thompson, 22, Tommy Thompson, 28, and Mitchell Miller, 63.
According to an incident report, the men posed as fence contractors when they approached the victim's home Feb. 10 in the 11500 block of Southwest 77th Avenue.
Police said the men told the victim that they were working for her rear neighbor, who wanted the rear fence removed.
Police said one of the men led the woman to her back yard to talk about the fence, and another man came into the yard.
While the group was in the back yard, one of the suspects fell to the ground and spilled what he claimed was a toxic liquid on the victim's left hand, on which she wore two wedding rings valued at $40,500, police said.
"They rushed the victim into the home and told her to take off her rings before washing her hands because the liquid was acidic," Village of Pinecrest spokeswoman Michelle Hammontree said. "After the men left in a black pickup truck, the victim noticed that her rings were missing and other jewelry valued at $5,000 was also missing."
The woman told Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden that the 2.5-carat wedding ring belong to her great grandmother and had been in her family for 70 years. She said her mother had brought it back from Cuba, and she has worn it since her mother passed away.
Police said they found the suspects' truck and a distinctive gold medallion with the name "Donnie" engraved in cursive on one side and the date "8/21/53" on the other side. The medallion is believed to have been taken from another home during a "distraction burglary." Other jewelry was also found inside the pickup truck, which has been repossessed.
According to Hammontree, gypsy burglars are known for using distraction techniques in order to burglarize or con victims, who are usually elderly.
Skippy Thompson and three other family members were arrested last October in connection with a series of home burglaries in which elderly homeowners were targeted, detectives said.
According to Broward Sheriff's Office detectives, a man named David Thompson knocked on the front door of a 92-year-old woman's home in Tamarac and told her that he needed to clean debris from her yard and treat her lawn.
Detectives said the man asked the woman to walk with him to the back yard. During that time, the other men entered the victim's home and stole several hundred dollars from her bedroom, authorities said.
Detectives believe that the group has committed several distraction thefts that targeted seniors throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
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