VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police are investigating another “distraction burglary” in Nassau County.
The latest incident occurred around 6 p.m. Monday in Valley Stream.
A man posing as a water department worker knocked on the door of a North Cottage Street home and told an elderly couple that he needed to check the water pressure in the basement, police said.
“Told the elderly homeowners he was there to check water pressure. They had him inside the home. He asked to go to the basement. In fact, he insisted that both go to the basement,” Lt. Kenneth Lack, Nassau County Police, said.
While he distracted the husband and wife, both 81, police said a second suspect got into the house and stole cash from their bedroom, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.
“He asked them to empty the washing machine and refill it, which they did. As the washing machine was refilling the subject was banging on it and talking on the phone making a lot of noise,” Lt. Lack said.
The victims contacted the police after discovering the money missing the next day. They also got in touch with the water company and discovered the utility did not have anyone working in the area at the time of the incident, Nassau Police Inspector Kenneth Lack said.
Police said that the first suspect was a white male, 30 to 40-years-old, 5’10”, with an average build, dark hair, wearing a light colored t-shirt, shorts, and lanyard around his neck.
The incident has many elderly residents concerned.
“Right now, I’ve changed my attitude. Give me a ticket and I’ll mail it to you rather than come into my house,” James Buckley, 91, said.
Detectives ask anyone with information to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS.
Earlier this month, three other Long Island communities started participating in a new pilot program from National Grid following a string of distraction burglaries.
Authorities said scam artists in Herricks, Syosset and Westbury posing as National Grid workers conned elderly residents into letting them into their homes and stealing cash and jewelry.
Under the new program, National Grid will call 24 hours ahead of time in the three communities to inform customers a worker is coming. National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said with automatic meter readers, workers will no longer have to go into a customer’s home; they will be able to simply drive by and check the numbers.
Lack told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall the thieves likely canvassed the areas before committing the crimes, and they are targeting the elderly.
Police are advising residents to be aware, always ask for photo IDs, keep cash and other valuables out of view and always report suspicious activity.
“The No. 1 tip is please do not open the door to strangers,” Lack said. “If someone’s at your home and they are claiming to be from a utility company or from a contractor, call up that company. Find out. Ask for credentials with photo ID. Do not let them in the house if you have an inkling at all that they are not who they said.”
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