Move over Contractor Guy there’s Broken Key guy

I did mention this new con on the main site but it does need repeating:

A couple of neighbors have reported to me that a person knocked on their door today, reporting to have broken off his key in his front door lock. Curiously, the individual (a virtual stranger to both neighbors) wanted to “borrow” $80+ dollars to engage the services of a locksmith to fix the problem. Perhaps needless to say, neither of our neighbors complied with the request of the stranger and he went on his merry way.
The Fifth District Police have been notified and, in general, the description of the person is as follows: An light complected, African American male, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, bald and clean shaven. He had an aqua (blue-green colored) jacket, dark pants and white sneakers trimmed in black.
Be aware of the possibility of this person knocking on your door to solicit money and, because we are trying to track his whereabouts, let me know if he shows up at your house.
–Jim Berry

Then Jim (our great ANC leader) followed with:

Dear Neighbors,
Yesterday, I wrote you to make you aware of the fact that there is a guy knocking on doors in the neighborhood, claiming to have broken off his key in the lock of his door, who is making requests of residents to “give” or “loan” him money to engage the services of a locksmith to fix his problem. Since I sent the email, a number of you have gotten back to me, indicating that a person of a similar description appeared at doors in the Unit block of Bates Street, in the 200 block of P Street, in the 1600 block of New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in the 1700 block of 4th Street, and elsewhere in the neighborhood with the same story. Fortunately, no one complied with his request for money and, according to each person who gave me feedback, the person left without incident.
As I also indicated to you yesterday, the Fifth District Police are on the lookout for this person. Similar complaints have been reported about a person in Brookland who was perpetrating a similar scam in that community, but from what we have gathered about the person who is roaming our neighborhood, it doesn’t sound like the same guy who was playing this con in Brookland. Much like the guy in Eckington who was doing the “contractor scam,” it is clear that we must be careful about how and to whom we respond when strangers appear at our doors and, perhaps needless to say, an effective way of neutralizing the adverse effects of such a scam is for neighbors to communicate quickly with neighbors, if and when situations like this occur.
At this point, the police have been provided with the name (possibly, a street name or a nick name) of a suspect who was identified by one of our neighbors and we think we have an address in the community with which he might be associated. I will keep you posted on new developments in this situation, as they occur.
–Jim Berry

And stolen off of the Truxton Circle Dispatch’s submission:

I attended the early sessions of the Ward 5 Constituent Services Summit. As advertised in many listservs, MPD Chief Charles Ramsey was present to open the Summit. His first item mentioned with regards to Ward 5 crime and public safety was about the “Broken Key Guy”. He used the exact phrase as community emails and discussions, [personal observation] so it appears that the police DO take notice on our complaints.
The Chief did indicate this is a relatively new type of scam and that we should always be vigilant for ANY type of scam AND that scam sshould be reported like any other crime. [personal observation #2 – perhaps because this is a new type of scam – that is the reason for the dispatchers at 311 being less-than-helpful with some calls.]
I was able to ask the Chief about the problem some neighbors have reported with the unresponsiveness of 311:
1) The Chief indicated they were very interested in catching this guy or any scam artist.
2) The Chief advised that 311 / 911 dispatch is not the MPD. They are their own department. [communication dept I believe]
3) He advised that he has briefed the head of the dispatch/ communications dept of this scam-and that it is to be taken seriously.
Chief Ramsey advised if the guy was at your door, to call 911 to report a “Crime in Progress”. [my best guess for additional details – tell the dispatcher its a *wanted* scam artist – may be helpful to mention Broken Key Guy, OR Contractor Guy if he’s still out there]
IF you’re comfortable and do not feel threatened – tell the guy your you’ll be right there/back – hopefully to keep him at the door – then call 911. If he’s already gone or you want to report more information – call 311, or call the Operations desk at 698-0150.
IF you talk to him or can see him clearly- try to get a good description -physical characteristics that will not change, in addition to what he is wearing.
Chief Ramsey stated that they would like someone that has given money to file a report,[If I understood correctly] then a warrant can be issued and so they can get a description.
If your neighborhood is collecting information, continue or resume calling 311 or 911.
The dispatch response should be better since the police have alerted them to this issue.
As for any crime: If its a crime “In Progress” OR you fell threatened -call 911.
If its after the fact or you have additional information to report – call 311. If your not sure – call 911.
Always try to have the correct address and as many details as you can. 311 and 911 track statistics on the amount of calls, so call them FIRST – then call your “local phone chain”.
–S. Kaufman

6 thoughts on “Move over Contractor Guy there’s Broken Key guy”

  1. Ugh! I’d like to say I didn’t get scammed, but gave him money for fear of ultimately being robbed. I’d just jumped out of cab (with cash in hand) and was opening my front gate when I noticed the man on my step. He gave me his sob story and said he was my neighbor. I apologized but said I didn’t recognize him and doubt he’s my neighbor since I’m pretty familiar with them and was uncomfortable giving him money because I don’t know him. He battled me on that and said he just needed another $15 and I said all I got is $10 (the bill was in my hand and he was staring at it). He promised to come back in 15 minutes and told me his name was ‘Norman’. He fits the description of the above person but I would guess weighed in at about 280. Because I was not in my house, I was alone and did not notice lights on at my neighbors houses, I parted with my $10 bucks and ran in to call my husband at work. Lessons learned: ALWAYS put your cash away in the cab and check out the front of house before just walking up. All I could think of at the time though was the previous robberies because I knew this man was not legitimate.

  2. Oh, dear. Yes, there is a lesson in the story for all of us. I will keep in mind to put my money up before leaving a cab.

  3. This man, who identified himself as my neighbor “Mr. Wilson”, showed up at my house (the “crackhead house at 5th and R”) on Thursday and Sunday evening. Both times I refused to lend him the money while noting that he was visibly carrying cash, a beer, and one time a large jug of cooking oil.

    He definitely is in the range of 280lbs and was non-threatening to me.

  4. JumboChic: If possible, it would be a good idea for you to file a police report on the incident. As stated above, MPD is looking for someone who has given BKG money so that they can finally issue an arrest warrant. As far as I know (from the Brookland, Eckington, and MPD-5D listservs), no one else has given him money, so this might be a huge step forward – perhaps the 311 dispatchers will take the calls more seriously if there’s a warrant.

  5. Oh he’s hit a bunch of folks in the Mt. Vernon Square area too!
    The reason cons are so harmful is that they make the community hard-hearted, shutting our doors to strangers, making us less giving and making us more fearful.
    Anyway, someone on the Mt. Vernon listserv described him as an overweight African-American man with a baseball cap, possibly covering some grey hair. Another on the listserv told the guy that they did have any cash and he told them to go to the ATM!!!

  6. I saw a/the “broken key guy” same description except with a shaved head (did someone mention that he may have had hair on his head?) and he had one of those brown cigarettes. It was a few days ago Saturday 4pm, and it was warm so maybe that’s why the top of his head wasn’t covered. He said he was a neighbor a few houses down, he couldn’t specify the which street he was on and I know most of the faces on my area by now. I called the police but I did not stall him, I’m no good at acting/pretending/lying. sorry. I didn’t think he was threatening either. I live on NY avenue and there were lots of people around.

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