A young con artist, spinning a yarn about being locked out of her home, is taking advantage of the kindness of strangers in south Minneapolis and swiping valuables, credit cards and cash.
A young con artist, spinning a yarn about being locked out of her home, has been taking advantage of the kindness of strangers in south Minneapolis and swiping valuables, credit cards and cash, according to authorities.
Police say the girl has targeted homes on Columbus Avenue from 41st to 46th Streets, telling the person who answers the door that she’s been locked out of her home and needs to use a phone to call her mother.
“She becomes very persuasive,” a neighborhood alert from police warns.
Once the girl is let in the home and left alone for a moment, she has taken credit cards, cash, cellphones, portable electronics and whatever she can get her hands on before leaving, police added.
She has so far hit three homes, and residents are being encouraged to let their neighbors know about the ruse before she strikes again.
Police crime prevention specialist Karen Notsch said late Monday morning that the girl “has been identified. She is a female, 15 years [old].” Police have yet to say whether they have located the girl or arrested her.
One resident in the 4100 block of Columbus told police that her credit card was stolen by the girl and soon had more than $500 in charges on it.
Another homeowner farther down the street said there were two girls who came to her home one weekday afternoon late last month telling the same story.
The older of the two, maybe in her young teens, “did most of the talking,” said Fawn Bernhardt-Norvell, who lives in the 4800 block of Columbus. The older girl said she and her sister were cold and just wanted a place to wait until their parents came home, Bernhardt-Norvell added.
But as Bernhardt-Norvell pressed for more details, she said, her suspicions grew. The girls didn’t know where their parents were, and they were vague about exactly where they lived, saying they just moved in.
As Bernhardt-Norvell went to get a phone for the girls to use, they both “came in right behind me,” she said. She asked them not to come in any farther and allowed them to make a call, which they said was busy.
Bernhardt-Norvell gave the girls $5 and directed them to a nearby Turtle Bread bakery. The older girl “seemed mad,” took the money and left with her sister in a direction opposite of the bakery.
When Bernhardt-Norvell informed police Monday of her encounter, she was told they had not known there might be two girls running this con. She said she knows of a neighbor who also was visited by the same girls.
In her 10 years on Columbus, “I’ve never encountered anything like this,” Bernhardt-Norvell said.
Bernhardt-Norvell described the older girl as black, about 5 feet 1 inches tall, slender, with long dark hair and appearing to be wearing contacts that gave her eyes a bluish-lavender tint.
The young girl was black, about 8 years old and no more than 4 feet tall, with a slender build and longer hair. She was dressed “like she had been to church or something,” in a dress and heels. Her hair was done up with barrettes.
Police said that anyone else who has been victimized should call 911.