Homeowner fears woman's pleas for help was ruse to break in - KMOV.com

Homeowner fears woman's pleas for help was ruse to break in

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- A scary situation in South St. Louis: homeowners believe a man and a woman may be preying on the good will of neighbors who are concerned that a woman's pleas for help may actually be a ruse to break into your home.

A police captain tells me the department is taking this one seriously. He's alerting his night watch to be on the look out for it. So far, it's the only case officers have heard about but say a vigilant neighbor may have thwarted a crime.

Mark Martinelli was at home with his family in the wee hours of Saturday morning when a woman began pounding on his door. Neighbors say that it's the second house that she tried, and something made Martinelli suspicious.

"There was something about the fact that for one, she was not at all sounding hysterical or out of control. It was 'I need help. I need help' -- kind of like that," Martinelli says in a dead-pan tone. "And when I said through the door 'who is it? Identify yourself,' she said nothing like 'I'm so-and-so or this is your neighbor, I live down the street.' There was nothing offered by way of anything."

Martinelli says the woman then tried to push her way inside his home. When he shoved back and yelled out for his wife to call police, the woman left. Neighbors who heard the commotion say a man wearing a backpack was standing nearby and also took off running with the woman. Despite that 911 call, Martinelli says he never saw police.

"During the course of that 35-45 minutes (after talking to 911), I walked out here on the porch no less than three or four times looking up and down the block for sign of police," Martinelli says. "I saw none and none ever contacted me, which they confirmed for you."

Police admit that officers made a mistake. It's policy in the First District to let 911 callers know what police found -- or in this case, didn't find. A police captain tells me that a swarm of officers did indeed check it out but found no one matching the description Martinelli gave to dispatchers.

He describes the woman as white with a blonde ponytail, wearing a striped shirt. The man, he says, is African-American and was wearing black pants, a black parka-type coat, a backpack and had on a black nylon head covering.

Call police if you have a similar experience.

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