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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"Gypsies" still scamming area

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Purdy woman who had been a victim of a roofing scam was a topic of discussion at the Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers November meeting.

The victim reported to Purdy Chief of Police Jackie Lowe that three men came to her home and told her that they knew the home had previously had roof work done and they were there to complete a warranty check.

The victim told the men to leave, at which point one of the suspects, described by the victim as appearing Hispanic, said he needed a drink of water. The woman let him into the home to get the drink, at which point a second suspect distracted her. The first suspect then rummaged through her cabinets before returning to the vehicle.

The three suspects left the area in what was described as a white or gray 1996 or 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck, at which point the woman discovered her purse missing. A check was cashed at First State Bank in Purdy by one of the suspects, Joseph Spry. He provided the teller with his driver's license information when he endorsed the back of the check.

Spry was later arrested in Joplin on outstanding warrants from the City of Joplin and Jasper County. He has prior convictions for forgery, assault and stealing.

Spry told law enforcement officials he was part of an organization of "gypsies" based out of Jasper County.

According to Lowe, the group targets elderly people in southwest Missouri, offering to fix a roof or patch a driveway or some other type of work and then charging a large amount of money.

Lowe said the suspects are well known to Jasper County law enforcement officials and are now branching out to other counties in southwest Missouri.

"These people live a very transient lifestyle and move from state to state and city to city," Lowe said.

Two other suspects involved in the scam have not been identified.

Crime Stoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and filing of charges against suspects involved in criminal activities. Those having information on the suspects who are believed to be temporarily residing in an RV Park near Sarcoxie, are asked to call Crime Stoppers. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

"We want people to be aware that this activity is taking place in the Purdy, Monett and Cassville areas," Lowe said. "We don't know how many residents these people have targeted because so often the people are embarrassed to let law enforcement officers know they were victims of a scam."

In other business, Crime Stoppers board members welcomed new Verona Chief of Police Dan Head.

Head said he was settling into the city of Verona very well and enjoying meeting its residents.

Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay noted that church burglaries were taking place in rural portions of that county. Most of the items being taken include electronic and sound system equipment.

"We're really hammering down on the drug trafficking in Lawrence County," DeLay said. "We've been working with COMET and the Federal Marshal's Office in Springfield."

COMET is a regional task force that includes the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Christian, Stone, Taney, Greene, Polk, Lawrence and Webster county sheriff's departments, 29 local police departments and the Stone County Prosecutor's Office. The agency's primary task involves drug-related investigations and enforcement.

The next meeting of Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers will be at noon on Thursday, Jan. 20 at The Bayou, located on Highway 60 in Monett.

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