Local/State

Men posing as utility workers rob elderly couple, police say

Friday, January 10, 2014

Police say two men posed as water department workers and stole money and valuables from an elderly couple in South Philadelphia.

The robbery happened around 3:00 p.m Friday in the 2500 block of South 20th Street.

A 79-year-old Korean War veteran was sitting in his home with his 77-year-old wife and their special needs son.

Police say two men in uniforms came knocking at the door.

"They had some form of ID, they're not clear as to what type it was, but they're in workers uniforms posing as utility workers - baseball caps with a white check mark," said Capt. Lou Campione, Philadelphia Police.

Authorities say the men ransacked every room in the home and got away with $2,500 in cash and a lot of jewelry.

Neighbors are outraged.

"I am sick, I think they're cowards, they have to be caught," said Carolyn Lanni, neighbor.

"It's crazy that they got that much guts to knock on your door and enter your house like that and keep you in there like a hostage and tear your house apart. It's hard to comprehend it, it really is," said Joe Criniti, neighbor.

Criminals posing as utility workers has become a growing problem in Philadelphia.

There have been some efforts to try and address the problem but yet it keeps happening.

Now the chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee has scheduled hearings later this month. They plan to come up with a 1-800 phone number where people can call to verify if the workers are legit.

"But also what we're going to have is an online presence of verification of workers that may be with the water department, electric company or Gas works," said Councilman Curtis Jones, Public Safety Committee Chairman.

In the meantime police have some advice.

"You should not let anybody in that you're unsure of, even if you think that they're utility workers. Call 911, we'll respond, we'll check it out, we'll verify that they're legit," said Capt. Campione.

Residents in South Philadelphia have also created a Facebook page called 'Taking Out South Philadelphia Streets Back' asking people to unite against this type of crime.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS (8477), text a tip to PPD TIP (773847) or through PhillyPolice.com.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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philadelphia news, south philadelphia news, robbery, local/state
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