Seniors living alone are being targeted by two men who are posing as utility workers to money and valuables.
Since December 31, the homes of five seniors in Morris Park, Pelham Bay, Country Club, Baychester and Soundview have been hit by two brazen thieves ,who claim they work for Con Edison or are water meter readers, to gain access to the homes of seniors.
Once inside, one of the men distracts whomever lets them in, while the other goes through the house stealing valuables, especially jewelry. Councilman Jimmy Vacca has taken notice of the pattern and wants something done immediately.
“They have got to be brought to justice and should rot in jail,” Vacca said. “It is not just about financial loss, that is bad enough. I am sure that it is physiologically damaging to have someone in your home stealing anything, let alone heirlooms that are irreplaceable.”
The ages of the victims have varied widely from 69 to 94, but the victims are all reporting the same two men who appear to be Hispanic and in their late-30s to early 40s.
In one case, in the 49th Precinct, the duo told a man on Neill Avenue that they needed to check the home’s water system for contamination after work crews had broken through a water main on the block, which never actually happened.
The men ultimately got away with around $1,500 in cash in that burglary, but at the time it did not appear to be part of a pattern in the precinct.
Now the suspects seem to be moving from precinct to precinct with the same kind of deception crime, hitting an older person in the 45th Precinct on Thursday, February 3, community affairs officer Ann Marie Morrison said. She noted that such crimes can be part of an even larger citywide pattern.
“They usually travel in pairs and pick on an older person that they know lives alone,” Morrison said. “If the person answering the door feels skeptical, they can ask to see identification, and call DEP or Con Edison and ask if they are working on the block.”
If the senior does end up calling 911, Morrison said that they should give as accurate and detailed a description as possible, and they can tell the suspected con men that they are not expecting workers and to come back some other time.
Often times, responding police will find the people in question a few blocks away, and if the description is detailed enough, they will be able to stop and question them, Morrison said.
“Just ask to see identification, but don’t open the door,” said 49th Precinct Community Affairs officer Jay Sturdivant.
“If they are not expecting someone or someone had been there to read the meter in the past few weeks, and they think something is up, a last resort is calling 911.”