The man has broken into at least six houses in Tacoma in recent weeks, police said. He appears to target retirement communities during daylight hours, they added.
Police said the man uses the fake sob-story to figure out who's home and who's not. Sometimes he has a crumpled up picture of the dog that he claims to be looking for, police said. He's referred to the dog as "Buddy" or "Baby."
"He just rang my doorbell and said 'Have you seen my dog?' I said 'No, I haven't seen a dog' but I said 'You're trespassing.'" said Dallas Whitsell.
Police said most neighbors don't think too much of it when they see the man at other homes because he claims to be looking for a lost dog.
Once he finds a home where no one answers the door, he breaks in to steal expensive jewelry. One victim said the man also stole some cash from her home while she was away.
"I'm sorry to see it happen because it's always been a very safe, quiet little community," said Margaret Brevig.
Police said the man is breaking into homes with unlocked doors or windows. But several witnesses said their doors and windows were closed and locked at the time of the burglaries.
Police fear the man could get violent if he confronts someone in their own home. He's described as white, 25 to 35 years old, about 6'4" with a slight build, police said. He has blond or brown hair.
Police are urging homeowners to make sure their doors and windows are closed and locked.
If you spot the man, call 9-1-1 right away, police said.