Thieves target homes using children as lookouts while telling neighbors they're looking for lost dog

Police raid home but no arrests made

DENVER - Denver police are still trying to solve a series of home burglaries where the thieves are using children as lookouts.

They say the kids are telling neighbors they're looking for a lost dog.

"I think that's horrible," said Danielle Sotello, who witnessed an attempted burglary. "What kind of role model are you for your children, to be burglarizing houses?"

Sotello lives across the street from a neighbor who was targeted by one of the thieves near West Dakota Avenue and South Osceola Street.

"I saw a man leaning against the truck," she said. "I thought his children were tired and that they were going to rest, but no, he made it to the porch and had the older child in the front yard and the younger one on the side of the house."

When Sotello walked by the house, she couldn't believe what she heard.

"I heard the (younger child) say, 'Dad, the back window is open.' So, I was like this doesn't sound right. I'm calling the cops."

Shortly afterward she saw the man take the screen off the front window.

Sotello told 7NEWS that when the man realized he had been seen, he told the kids, "Let's go."

Similar heists have been reported at a number of homes in West Denver.

On June 17, police were contacted by a resident who lives on the 4200 block of West Mississippi Avenue.

She told them that she, her mother and her brother live in separate homes within the same complex.

She said that while she and her mother were running errands, someone broke into her mother's house and stole a Kindle and a video game system.

The woman's brother told police that he heard a door knock while he was taking a nap.

He said he got up, answered the door and saw a Hispanic man with a bald head and a mustache standing outside with a young girl.

According to court documents, "The man stated that this young girl asked him if he had seen a black-colored Chihuahua dog."

Once the brother realized that his mom's house had been broken into, he and his sister jumped into his car and began looking for the man and girl who had knocked on his door.

He spotted them getting into a black SUV a few blocks away and followed it to a house near West Kentucky Avenue and South Raleigh Street.

Police executed a search warrant at that house and recovered a number of items, including a Nintendo Wii, Samsung Tablet, Samsung camera, Sony Laptop, iPad and video games including a Xbox 360, PS3, Sega Genesis and Retron 2.

The occupants of the house told 7NEWS all the items were theirs.

On May 29, police got a call from a resident who lives on the 4700 block of West Tennessee Avenue.

She told them that her neighbor across the street observed a man and a young boy acting suspiciously outside her house.

She said he took pictures of the two, and once they realized he was photographing them, the man sent the boy over to ask the neighbor if he'd seen their black Chihuahua. He said he hadn't.

The woman who lives in the house told police that someone entered it through a window and took her iPad.

Sotello says it's important for neighbors to help one another.

"If we don't watch out for one another," she said, "all our houses are going to be burglarized, and the stuff we've worked for, we're going to end up with nothing."

Although police raided a house in the neighborhood and confiscated some items, they've made no arrests and say the case is still under investigation.

Sotello says she can't believe the thieves are using kids and are making claims that they're looking for lost dogs to divert attention from what they're really doing.

"That's crazy," she said. "I don't think that's right."

She said the man and children she saw removing a screen from her neighbor's house were not looking for a dog.

"You can tell when someone's up to no good," she said. "They had no dog and they weren't looking for a dog."

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