Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Man Sentenced to 10 years for Stealing from the Elderly

    UPDATE: Boise, March 14, 2012 - Boise Police detectives learned this week that a man accused of traveling the Northwest scamming seniors has been sentenced to ten years in an Idaho prison. 

    Sentenced:James W. Schmidt, 51. 10 years, 3 cts Grand Theft 

    Schmidt pled guilty earlier this year to three counts of Grand Theft following a Boise Police investigation that began back in 2009. Officers say Schmidt's victim was an elderly Boise woman conned by Schmidt out of more than $75,000.

     "We think this guy targets seniors, gains their trust, then swindles them," said Det. Brad Thorne of the Boise Police Financial Crimes Unit back in 2009 when officers were searching for Schmidt. 

    Boise Police detectives worked on the case with police in Washington and Oregon where Schmidt has also been suspected of and charged with similar crimes. Boise Police detectives were told Schmidt was arrested by US Marshals in New York State. He was sent from New York to Washington state to face charges, and was returned to Idaho on March 22, 2011 where he has been incarcerated and did receive sentencing credit from the judge for time served. 

   What Happened:In late December, 2008, family members of the elderly woman reported to Boise Police that she may be the victim of theft or forgery. The woman, in her 80's told officers she met a man later identified as Schmidt in August, 2008 when he knocked on her door selling air cleaners. The man befriended the woman and eventually gained her confidence.

    In late December, the woman's family noticed more than $60,000 of the woman's personal checks cashed by Schmidt. They found another $15,000 in credit card debt used by Schmidt.

     According to investigators, Schmidt traveled Northwest states targeting the elderly by selling his products, vacuums and air cleaners, door to door in neighborhoods known to have a significant senior population. Detectives say he would start relationships with seniors who seem vulnerable, gain their confidence, possibly by offering them rides or other assistance, then gained access to and manipulated their finances.

     Here's what Boise Police and Boise City Prosecutors would like citizens to be aware of regarding door to door solicitations:

  • Boise City license requirements are for everyone, even charities. (Charities are just exempt from paying for the license fee).
  • A Boise City solicitors license should have the official Boise City logo along with a picture of the solicitor.
  • The solicitor is required to clearly display the official city license.
  • Citizens should ask to see the license. If the solicitor cannot display one, citizens are urged to call police.
  • Homeowners should be aware some door to do people will use a scam to get inside their homes such, as pretending to do a survey or ask questions about products in their home, and then once inside try to steal something.
  • Homeowners have the right to tell people they are not interested at any time. Homeowners can put up a no solicitation sign, or they can simply not answer the door.
  • Homeowners should not be pressured into buying something and they have every right to ask a person to leave. If a person refuses to leave, homeowners can and should call police.
  • If a person in their neighborhood is acting suspicious to please report it to police.