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Thieves pose as FBI agents, roofers, strike in two counties

Three men posing as federal agents on Monday forced several Winton residents to give them cash, a cellphone and tablet computer, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.

No one was injured.

Deputy Delray Shelton said three men, described as Latinos, approached a group of residents about 6 p.m. Monday outside a home in the 7200 block of McConnell Avenue.

“They claimed to be FBI agents,” Shelton said.

The men took about $1,150 in cash, along with the tablet computer and cellphone from the victims, the Sheriff’s Department said.

“There was no report of any weapons being used,” Shelton said.

Deputies said the victims do not speak English and didn’t notify law enforcement for two hours after being robbed.

Shelton warned residents that no law enforcement official will ever demand money on the spot. And any time deputies or officers do seize property, he added, they will also give a receipt for the property and explain the process to get the property back, if possible.

A similar incident was reported over the weekend in Chowchilla.

Two thieves posed as roofers Saturday afternoon and stole a safe containing valuables from a 101-year-old man, the Madera County Sheriff’s Department reported.

The victim, who apparently needed roof repairs, allowed the two men into his home on Robinson Boulevard to discuss an estimate for the work, sheriff’s spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.

“While one suspect sat with the victim discussing repair costs, the second suspect wandered through the residence,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

No weapons were involved and the victim was not injured.

“It’s unfortunate, but he (the victim) bought into what they were telling him and he allowed them into his home,” Stuart said.

A bogus deal was struck and the two men left the home. A short time later, the victim realized his safe was missing.

The safe was found about an hour later near the intersection of Road 33 and Avenue 7, about 30 miles from the man’s home, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Property had been removed from the safe, but authorities declined to elaborate on what exactly was taken.

Investigators said it was too early to know if the incidents in Winton and Chowchilla are related.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Madera County Sheriff’s Department at (559) 675-7770 or Crime Stoppers at (559) 498- 7867.