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Springfield Roof Scammers are Likely 'Gypsies' from Jasper County

Barry, Lawrence, and Jasper Counties have dealt with the criminals for years

November 23, 2010|by Doug Magditch, KSPR News | dmagditch@kspr.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A group of 'gypsies' is targeting elderly people in southwest Missouri. They're pretending to be roofers, as a way to get inside people's homes.

They leave without doing any work, and often, steal purses and checkbooks.

Monday, Springfield police issued a warning: people need to be on the lookout for three men, driving a white truck, pretending to be roofers.

It looks like Springfield wasn't their first stop.

"He says, 'have you got a ladder?' I thought, 'that's strange, a roofer without a ladder?'" says Will Binge.

Will and Betty Binge are just one of many scammed by a group, calling themselves 'gypsies.'

"They were well-organized," says Will Binge.

Earlier this month, police say Joseph Spry, along with two others, struck a home in Purdy, Mo.

Spry claimed he had worked on the roof, and needed to do a warranty check. The homeowner, an elderly woman, asked the three men to leave.

They left, but not without her purse.

Later, a camera at the First State Bank in Monett, Mo. spotted the men's white pickup outside. Spry was inside, cashing a $2,800 check from the woman's checkbook.

He was arrested, and told police he is part of an organization of 'gypsies' based in Jasper County.

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He bonded out of jail November 12th. Later that same day, the Binges say, he showed up at their house. He came in a white truck, with two other men.

We showed Will Binge a photo of Spry, and he recognized him immediately.

"That's him. That's the guy that had the hat on. I'd recognize those eyes anywhere," says Binge.

The Binges say the three men ran the same scam on them.

"Generally the same format," says Will Binge.

"It's almost always the elderly in some fashion," says Matt Brown, Public Affairs Officer for the Springfield Police Department.

The men stole Betty Binge's purse.

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office says it has been dealing with the group of 'gypsies' for years. Now, the thieves are, likely, branching out to new areas.

"Believe me, they don't want to come back here," says Will Binge.

Spry is back in jail on new forgery charges.

Police are looking for the other two suspects. They're driving a white, extended cab, Chevrolet pickup truck, with Missouri plates.

SPD is investigating the connection between Spry and the Springfield thefts. As of Tuesday, he is not charged for the scam in Springfield.

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