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Robbers Impersonating Officers Ransack Two Homes : Crime: Authorities caution residents to use common sense before opening doors to people showing badges and claiming to be police.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police warned residents Friday to “use common sense” when answering the door to someone claiming to be a police officer in the wake of two home robberies by police impersonators this week.

The robberies occurred within a half-mile of one another.

The robbers flashed a badge “which could have been something they bought at a dime store,” Detective Rick Jamieson said. The men spoke in Spanish, saying they were police looking for drugs, Jamieson said. When the doors were opened, the armed robbers muscled their way in and ransacked the houses, Jamieson said.

At about 10 a.m. Thursday, a man knocked on the door of a house in the 7700 block of Riverton Avenue, waving what looked like a badge and saying he was a police officer, Jamieson said. When the 45-year-old resident answered, three or four other men burst in, bound the man with plastic handcuffs, hit him over the head with a handgun and ransacked his home while he lay on the floor, taking $2,200 worth of loot, Jamieson said.

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On Sunday, two robbers forced a family of seven to lie face down on the floor while the thieves rifled drawers and closets, finding only $400 in cash and a handgun, Jamieson said.

Each robbery took about 10 minutes, Jamieson said, and the pseudo-police were dressed in casual street clothes--jeans and shirts, wearing baseball caps.

“It could be drug-related,” Jamieson said, although he said the victims have denied having any involvement in drugs.

Jamieson cautioned residents to not be taken in by a badge, noting the police also carry ID cards bearing the officer’s picture.

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“If it’s someone knocking on the door saying they’re police, residents should ask for some form of identification other than a badge,” Jamieson said.

Resident should also be leery of people claiming to be officers but not dressed in uniform, Jamieson said.

Jamieson said the ruse is not uncommon, but has not been used in the eastern San Fernando Valley since a band committed a handful of similar robberies last summer. One of the robbers is in custody, and Jamieson doubts that the latest thefts are related to last summer’s.

“It’s one of the risks of living in L.A.,” Jamieson said.

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