Cops Hunt Fake Utility Workers Preying on Elderly in Robbery Spree

Men say they need to check water levels to gain access to homes, then steal jewelry once inside

By Tracie Strahan and Jennifer Millman
|  Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011  |  Updated 1:49 PM EDT
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Cops Hunt Fake Utility Workers Preying on Elderly in Robbery Spree

Handout

One of the suspect is described as a Hispanic man ages 35-40 about 5 feet 10 inches tall. The jewelry stolen in the Feb. 7 heist is also illustrated in this sketch.

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Elderly victims in the Bronx have been robbed by imposters posing as utility workers since December. But the NYPD hopes a newly compiled sketch of a potential suspect will put an end to this string of burglaries.

Police say the suspects have struck at least five separate times in the last three months, burglarizing homes in the vicinity of Willow Lane and Neill, Irwin, Ohm and Baychester Avenues in the Edenwald section of the borough. In each case, the suspects claim they work for the water department and need to get into the home to check the water level or the quality of the water.

After the victims let the men inside to read their meters, the suspects steal property and flee on foot.

The five robberies occurred over the last three months, with the most recent one happening last Monday and another just four days earlier. All of the robberies happened between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., police said.

Police released a sketch of one of the suspects that also illustrates the jewelry stolen from the most recent robbery on February 7. That suspect is described as a Hispanic man between the ages of 35 and 40 about 5 feet 10 inches tall.

The stolen property shown in the sketch include two rings -- a Curtis Wright Aero Division ring with a white stone in the middle and a gold wedding band with the word "Etaypouna" inscribed inside.

Police emphasize that the suspects are not saying they're affiliated with any specific agency.

Although cops say the suspects do not specify a utility for which they work in their scam, Consolidated Edison reminded customers that their monthly bills list the date their meter reader is scheduled to be checked. Residents are also urged to use their peepholes or intercoms to identify visitors.

The utility also released a flier that shows what a veritable Con Edison ID badge looks like and urged residents to always ask to see an ID card to avoid being manipulated by imposters. 

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). Individuals can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.  All calls are strictly confidential.

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