Re: Homeless/gypsies as "scam artists" wintering in Florida FWD

Ronald J. Bartle (snuffy@berlin.snafu.de)
Tue, 30 Dec 1997 21:45:32 +0100


Tom Boland wrote:
> 
> How many hate-the-homeless media images can *you find below?


Tom... what I can find is the need to differentiate between

homeless | thieves

homeless | burglars

Homeless | gypsies

gypsies | gypsie-thieves-burglars

named private citizens | convicted criminals who the police have done
thier job of apprehending and the tax paysers money has been wisely
invested in bringing a succesful prosecution.

or

courthouse | printhouse | lynch-mobs'-rope

I am trying to be slow at pointing fingers - but useing a finger to draw
a line in the sand between some of the | above - might be more to the
point - even if less profitable than the sort of "journalism" one sees
in the cf. article.

tom - do you have the e.mail or fax # for the editor in chief of the
Miami Herald?

ron b.



> __________
> FWD from <http://www.herald.com/florida/digdocs/021182.htm>
> 
> "Tourists, scam artists head South:
> Homeless snowbirds come in search of new start or new victims"
> 
> By MIKE SCHNEIDER, AP (Miami Herald 12-28-97)
> 
> ORLANDO -- It's a rite of winter in the Sunshine State.
> 
> Each season, snowbirds pack up their Winnebagos and drive South to Florida
> or fly down to their winter condominiums where they will spend the next
> four months enjoying blue skies and balmy weather.
> 
> And with them come Florida's other winter visitors: homeless people who
> want to escape harsher northern climes and gypsy thieves who specialize in
> home improvement scams and burglaries.
> 
> They're like Brian Maltais, a 56-year-old homeless man from Albany, N.Y.,
> who is spending the winter in Orlando. Or they're like the Dolinska
> sisters, Tamara and Barbara, who authorities say have burglarized wealthy,
> older Floridians of silver and jewelry and eluded authorities for years.
> 
> Although it's impossible to keep track of the numbers of homeless people
> who arrive in Florida with the first snowfall up North, homeless shelters
> said they see noticeable increases each season.
> 
> Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa sees about a 20 percent increase in the
> number of people staying at its 150-bed shelter in the winter, said
> spokeswoman Michelle Fox. A hundred more homeless people usually spend the
> night in a park in front of Metropolitan Ministries during the winter; only
> half that number sleep there in July.
> 
> ``They come here with the hope of finding work and starting over,'' Fox
> said. ``It's a good time for us to address their problems. . . such as
> addiction. We let them know that just by moving, the problem doesn't go
> away.''
> 
> About a quarter of Florida's estimated 55,000 homeless people come from
> outside the state, said Michelle Lagos, spokeswoman for the Florida
> Department of Children and Families. In the winter, a percentage of those
> are migrant workers who come to pick winter crops.
> 
> ``We're in the Sunbelt. It's a more attractive place to live on the street
> than New York,'' Lagos said.
> 
> Maltais got an earlier start than most of the homeless snowbirds, arriving
> in Florida from New York in late September. He worked in Boston for a while
> and saved enough money to buy a one-way Greyhound ticket to Florida.
> 
> ``I only had $160, and the weather started to get cold,'' Maltais said.
> ``The dampness bothers me.''
> 
> He plans to return to Albany, where his 22-year-old son and 13-year-old
> daughter live, in March or April -- before it gets too hot in Florida. In
> the meantime, he's spending nights at a homeless shelter. He tried getting
> a job in construction but was turned down because he didn't have a pair of
> work boots. He now hopes to earn some money picking citrus.
> 
> The influx of homeless people in the winter isn't always welcome --
> especially by other homeless people.  The snowbirds take up beds in
> shelters usually used by locals and crowd labor pools that meet at dawn
> each morning for construction jobs.
> 
> ``They crowd up everything when they come down here,'' said David Smith, a
> 35-year-old homeless man in Orlando. ``I wish they would stay up there.''
> 
> Law enforcement officers wish another group would stay up North, too. Like
> the homeless, gypsy thieves usually arrive once the mercury plunges up
> North.
> 
> ``It's kind of cold up North to be doing burglaries,'' said Palm Beach
> Police Detective Dan Szarszewski.
> 
> Mostly illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, the thieves usually have
> extensive criminal backgrounds from across the nation. Masters of forging
> fake documents, they usually have several aliases, making it difficult for
> law enforcement to keep track of them.
> 
> ``They have many names. You'll never be able to establish who they are,''
> said Lt. John Thorpe of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. ``The problem
> is they bond out and get away from us and we never hear from them again.''
> 
> There are two types of gypsy thieves who come to Florida this time of year.
> The first group, usually men, pose as contractors or utility workers and
> persuade residents to let them work on their homes. They go door-to-door
> soliciting business -- something most legitimate contractors don't do.
> 
> The workers then either steal valuables during the course of their job,
> perform substandard work or intimidate their clients into paying more money
> than they were originally quoted.
> 
> ``They like to pick on the elderly because they don't think they're as fast
> on their feet. They're easily intimidated, and they're more isolated and
> trusting,'' Thorpe said.
> 
> The second group of gypsy thieves usually work in a team of two women and a
> man. The man will drive the women to an upscale neighborhood, where the
> women will go door-to-door pretending to look for a lost dog or a home they
> are supposed to clean.
> 
> While one woman distracts the homeowner with her story, the other woman
> will sneak in a side door in search of valuable jewelry she can stuff in an
> apron under her clothes.
> 
> Typical of these thieves are the Dolinska sisters and their driver, Jan
> Joblonski. In Florida, members of the trio are wanted in Fort Lauderdale
> and Indian River, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota and Seminole counties.
> They also have outstanding warrants in Baton Rouge, La.; Nashville;
> Rockville, Md.; and St. Louis.
> 
> Police say the 34-year-old Tamara and the 38-year-old Barbara target
> affluent suburbs with large numbers of elderly people. The sisters take
> only the best quality silver, jewelry and the occasional fur coat or
> oriental rug.
> 
> And with the cold weather up North, authorities said, it's only a matter of
> time before they return to Florida this winter, if they haven't already.
> 
> ``The Dolinska sisters have been in Florida for years,'' Thorpe said.
> ``They're infamous. Nobody can find them.''
> 
> Copyright  1997 The Miami Herald
> 
> END FORWARD

-- 
Ron Bartle - Royal Air Force Veteran - Hobby Journalist - 24h wired Bed
& Breakfast in Berlin, Germany. snuffy@berlin.snafu.de +49.30.6884295