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Ed Palmer
04-02-06, 10:34 AM
No joke: Oven door passed off as flat-screen TV in scam


SOUTH BEND -- It isn't a crime police have seen many times before.

An unsuspecting woman purchased a "flat-screen television set" at a bargain price, the package even bubble-wrapped and complete with cord and controller.

But when the street consumer returned home that February day with her "steal" of a product, she was likely steamed.

"It was actually an oven door inside the package," explained South Bend Detective Sgt. Jim Walsh.

Police on Thursday arrested a suspect they believe sold the appliance piece to the woman. Walsh says recent thefts of oven doors from vacant properties may be linked to the scam.The 42-year-old theft victim was reportedly approached by the 43-year-old suspect Feb. 20 at her job in the 1600 block of South Michigan Street. The asking price for the bogus TV screen was $500, but when the victim couldn't come up with the money, the suspect settled for $300.

The oven door was wrapped in plastic to look like a flat screen, had Wal-Mart store labels, and included a generic remote control.

"It's an elaborate job of packaging," Walsh said.

The suspect's goose was cooked on Thursday after the victim's husband spotted a vehicle and recognized it as the phony salesman's. When police officers arrested the man, they also found an oven door and packaging materials inside his trunk, according to reports.Despite the bizarre fraud, police say oven doors are an increasingly hot item in area burglaries.

Just this week two reports of stolen oven doors made their way to South Bend Police.

The first happened Saturday at a home in the 400 block of North Arthur Street when a back door was kicked in and two suspects were seen exiting the residence carrying an oven door, according to reports.

The second occurred Monday at a home in the 900 block of South Twyckenham Drive, where a back door was forced open and the oven door removed from its frame.

Walsh said police have had a total of about five recent burglaries where oven doors were among the items stolen.

"It was mostly at (vacant) rental homes," Walsh explained. "Some might not be discovered for a couple weeks."

Police have had only a couple reports of the doors being sold as flat-screen televisions, but it's likely others went unreported, the detective said.

Police continue to investigate at least two other suspects who may be disguising oven doors and selling them.

Walsh warns residents not to buy products off the street or if they do, open packages first to make sure the items are what they appear to be.

Ed Palmer
04-02-06, 10:44 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v733/Ed15Palmer/Oven07-Installed.jpg
Damn. My fancy new teevee only gets the 24 hour casserole channel.

Wyoming
04-02-06, 10:44 AM
the street consumer

The old saying, 'There's no such thing as a free dinner', really into comes to play here.


Rolex's, etc., etc., are sold on the street corners everyday.

.

lucien2
04-02-06, 10:59 AM
Food.tv should capitalize on this story somehow.....................