When a married

Travelers’ victims in Bedford County recount swindling

When a married couple arrived at Arlene cheap jerseys Newman Breezewood home two weeks ago, telling of the wife struggle with cancer and offering to pave their driveway for $3,900, Newman and her husband thought they come upon a great deal.

seemed like nice people. I thought they were Christian people, Newman said.

While a state police trooper said he couldn yet confirm the connection, Burke origins and alleged crimes fit the profile of a clannish, centuries old society part ethnic group, part criminal enterprise whose origins can be traced back to the British Isles. And although Burke associates weren involved, a trooper said one such group is suspected in an elderly Kimmel Township man 2011 murder.

The Travelers, sometimes called and an array of slang terms, have long visited Pennsylvania towns in their cross country wandering.

Based primarily in the South, they arrive in Bedford County with predictable regularity each year, police said.

elderly population is a definite target, said state police Trooper Matthew Bonin, who is investigating the Burke case alongside the state Attorney General Office and the Internal Revenue Service. knock on your door, say they have leftover material. They going to offer a deal (victims) can pass up. charging twice and performing cheap, subpar work, the Travelers have often left town by the time their victims relatives catch on to the shoddy job. Driveway work is particularly common, Bonin said, though Travelers sometimes promise other labor before they pack up and move on.

next to impossible to track them down, Bonin said.

Their origins are complex: Travelers were first recognized as a separate group centuries ago in Ireland and Great Britain, where they are usually identified as a distinct culture and ethnicity. Making their way to the United States through the 1800s, they settled in different regions depending on their background English Travelers in one area, Scottish in another, Irish in yet another but kept their mobile lifestyle.

In America and the British Isles, Travelers are often associated with trailers and roving caravans, speaking a unique dialect among their own kind and settling in homogenous villages. Burke address indicates he from one such village near the South Carolina Georgia border.

Among American police, Travelers are recognized almost solely as a criminal group, said State Police Trooper Dana Martini, who has closely researched their culture during a three year homicide investigation.

actually told me they do good business here, Martini said of the ethnically English Travelers she has investigated, separate from but similar to the Irish Traveler culture from which Burke appears to hail. either come into Bedford County or stay on the outskirts. been identified in Blair County as well, police said, and news reports indicate similar scams take place across the country even in Florida during the colder months, when work on northern driveways would be impossible.

Bonin said local statistics on their theft and fraud aren readily available, as some victims never realize they been taken advantage of. Arrests are infrequent, the troopers said.

Dealing with potential customers, they generally don arouse suspicion, Martini said, as many are trained from childhood to pitch their services.

didn realize he was like that, Newman, the alleged victim, said after Burke arrest.

Dealing with each other, however, Travelers use a cant, or jargon filled dialect, to avoid outside attention, Martini said. When a group suspects police are after them, they quickly leave town.

That may be what happened in 2011, when 85 year old Irvin Hengst was found unconscious in his Imler home.

Relatives first suspected he had fallen, Martini said, but when Hengst died shortly afterward, his serious wounds revealed a brutal assault. Evidence at his home suggested a group of Travelers had performed work shortly before his death, Martini said.

While the groups are rarely violent, she said, a common theft tactic might have ended in Hengst death.

After an easy target and beginning driveway work, one Traveler will sometimes distract a homeowner outside while another raids the house for valuables. As Hengst was mentally sharp, he might have become suspicious and caught a thief in the act, Martini said.

Three years after his murder, Martini said she has identified suspects specific members of a roving English Traveler community but isn filing charges until more evidence is available. She has spoken with the suspects, who don operate from a single base but generally hail http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ from North Carolina and Virginia, she said.

Burke arrest demonstrates that police can catch roving suspects before they leave the area: State police learned of the alleged spate of driveway scams after bank employees pointed out conflicting ID information.

After allegedly selling his services under multiple names including Engineering Corp., County Paving and and Seal Paving, Burke is now in Bedford County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail, with a preliminary hearing set for Wednesday.

Burke arrest might prompt the latest group to leave for a time, Martini said. But the clans sometimes rotate, carving out territory and shifting as the years pass. Others could arrive in time for the next work season, despite police officers pleas that residents keep their eyes open and report suspicious offers.