NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The search is on for a man burglarizing houses in Queens — with the homeowners inside.
CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez spoke to a couple of the victims about how he gets in the door by promising a much-needed service.
On Wednesday night a mother of three was too afraid to reveal her identity. She’s terrified the man who posed as an exterminator and burglarized her home right underneath her nose will return.
“He’s real. He really acts real,” the woman said when asked how persuasive his masquerade is.
The woman said she was alone with her 1-year-old daughter, when the phony exterminator showed up at her apartment on 41st Street in Astoria, Queens.
“He said he was actually [looking] for the bedbugs. I said ‘bedbugs?’ Usually my exterminator comes for, like, roaches. So I said, ‘Okay … be safe,’” the woman said.
The suspect went alone into every bedroom, shutting the doors behind him and telling his victim to stay out of the rooms for 30 minutes to avoid inhaling fumes. All the while, police said, the fake bugman was snagging $15,000 worth of jewelry.
Investigators said the suspect then went to another apartment in the same building and victimized a 71-year-old woman with the same scam.
Police said the fake exterminator was wearing a blue uniform, what appeared to be a valid ID badge and was carrying a white spray tank, spraying what he claimed was an insecticide.
Police said the suspect was so believable he was able to convince the superintendent of another building to allow him into the super’s apartment to spray. But he took nothing.
Police said the suspect did take jewelry, including a wedding band, from an elderly couple in the super’s Astoria building. Sanchez spoke to another victim who was also afraid to show her face.
“Now, I’m scared to open the door for you,” she said.
Tenants are petitioning to their landlords to install security cameras to prevent other residents from being duped.