NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are sounding a warning for some New Jersey homeowners after thieves hit a dozen houses in the last few weeks.

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis spoke with homeowners on Friday to find out they got duped into letting them walk right in through the front door.

One homeowner, an 83-year-old man who didn’t want to give his name, was the victim of a serious scam.

“He says ‘I gotta check the water because you have a leak in the water,'” the victim said. “Two guys, they come downstairs, the two guys they come in the house.”

The suspects were men posing as utility workers, wearing black hardhats and gloves, and asking to check the basement water meter in a hurry, police said.

The Nutley Police Department confirmed two recent robberies in the same neighborhood along Ravine Avenue and more than a dozen in surrounding towns.

The scheme goes like this: one suspect distracts the homeowner while accomplices rob the home of valuables and cash, Dennis reported.

According to the duped residents, the black hard hat is the most memorable and common description of the robbers, along with them claiming to be from the water department. The stories are all the same.

One neighbor said 90-year-old Mary Furnari was robbed the same way, just before the elderly woman’s house was put on the market.

“And from what I understand, he said he had to check the water pressure down in the basement. She had to go down there, and that’s how the burglary occurred,” Furnari said.

The robberies are disturbing to the quiet community, known for its neighborhood watch program.

Nutley police officers said one rule to remember is that utility workers will never show up unannounced for a non-emergency.

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