Robbers impersonating Valley police officers

FRESNO, Calif.

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The robberies have occurred three times in less than a week, and in each case, the thieves have talked their way into homes of their victims.

Alert neighbors armed with surveillance cameras are helping investigators solve a disturbing crime.

Sonja Sorrick never thought her security system would be pivotal in helping Fresno County Sheriff's Detectives solve a serious crime. Video taken from her outdoor cameras shows the suspects casing her Northwest Fresno neighborhood, and then approaching the home of an unsuspecting victim.

"It was good to actually have all this," Sonja Sorrick said. "I'm just heart-stricken for my neighbor and just the situation she was put in. It's maddening, it's frustrating."

Dwane Strickland is the neighborhood watch leader in the Bullard and West area. He says two men gave the victim a story she had no reason to question. "They said that they were there to, there was a parolee in the backyard and naturally, they let them in. They did what they wanted to do, and got what they needed to get and got out of there."

Fresno County Sheriff's Detectives are sharing information with the Fresno Police Department, as they work to figure out whether the same suspects are to blame. Two of the three incidents have taken place in the middle of the day.

Sheriff's officials say residents should question anyone who shows up at their door asking to come inside their home, even if they are wearing what appears to be police attire. "The suspects in this case have identified themselves as officers and they're wearing items that would show them as such and for that, for most of the public, it can be a little confusing."

Investigators say the public should always feel free to ask for a photo identification card from the person who claims to be an officer. They should also look for an official police vehicle. Finally, residents should not hesitate to call dispatchers to verify the individual is an officer responding to an actual call.

The crime is especially unsettling because the suspects are surprising victims with a phony story that immediately makes them worry about their safety. Then, it forces them to take immediate action without much thought. And even more concerning, the suspects appear to be armed.

Sheriff's official told Action News, "The fact that violence could occur. We take it serious and we're going to continue to pursue these suspects aggressively."

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