Exclusive: Utility imposters rob elderly woman
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 2, 2012 (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are trying to track down a pair of imposters who talked their way into the South Philadelphia home of an elderly woman and robbed her of thousands of dollars.
85-year-old Catherine Dohn of the 2400 block of South 4th Street says it was about 3:00 p.m. Thursday that a heavy set man appeared at her door. He told her he was with the city maintenance department and needed access to her circuit box in the basement to work on lowering her electric bill.
The victim thought the man was legit because there was a large utility truck outside her home with orange traffic cones around it.
He asked her to help him by flipping circuits off and on as he twiddled with some kind of transmitter.
"And he had me play with them, he was checking the box and I'm doing and I said, 'I'm tired, you know, you should have a helper.' He said, 'He's doing something else outside,'" Dohn said.
Soon, Ms. Dohn began to get suspicious.
"I said, 'Where is your badge?' He said, 'I'm a supervisor, I don't need one.' I said, 'Where's your uniform?' 'We don't wear one," Dohn said.
Then the 85-year-old woman heard a noise upstairs and realized there was someone else in the house.
"When I said, 'my son-in-law's a cop,' he ran out," Dohn said.
Ms. Dohn then called her son-in-law whose a retired police captain and he told her to call 911 right away.
They would soon learn that the fake utility worker and his cohort had robbed her, making off with $4,000 in cash and jewelry from her hope chest.
The good thing is she wasn't hurt.
"She's good, she's a strong lady, she's probably the mean lady on the block, but she's good hearted and strong. She's hanging in there; she didn't get hurt. Thank God," grandson Adam Bizik said.
The victim described the fake utility worker she did see as a Hispanic male, heavy set, 5'8 to 5'9, 40 to 50 years old, with dark hair and sunglasses.
Police are hoping surveillance cameras at a school on the corner at 4th and Porter captured images of the culprits.
They are urging people once again to be careful about opening your door to strangers, to call your neighbors, see what they know and if you're suspicious, call police.
philadelphia, south philadelphia, robbery, local/state, dann cuellar
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