Fake water workers targeting elderly in NYC

February 24, 2011 2:56:09 AM PST
A gang of robbers preying on the elderly is expanding its operation from the Bronx to Manhattan. The suspects pose as plumbers or utility workers.

The crime spree began before Christmas, and senior citizens are being told to beware.

The-three man crew is already blamed for five robberies in the Bronx. But last Wednesday, police say they extended into Manhattan, where they were clearly picked up by surveillance cameras.

The men told an 80-year-old woman on Barrow Street that they worked for the water department. When she let them into her apartment to check the pipes, two men cleaned out her jewelry box while the third man distracted her.

"It's devastating, it really is," Bronx resident Michael Mancino said. "Because the neighborhood, I have grandchildren, I have my daughter, and you've got to watch out every time you open the door for anybody."

Police say the three men target their elderly victims in the afternoon, always claiming to be water department employees to gain access.

In addition to the security photographs of the men in Manhattan, police also say one of the men wears a distinctive ring with a medallion on it and a wedding ring with an inscription on the outside.

"It's a cruel thing to do, especially to someone's grandmother or mother or something like that," Bronx resident Bryan Santiago said. "It's a shame."

Police say the elderly should always check the identification of people coming over to do any work. Even if they claim to work for the water company or power company, they should have some ID. If you recognize any of the suspects, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.