Posing As Utility Workers, 2-Man Team Ransacks Seniors' Homes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They put the “con” in Con Ed.

Police in the Bronx were searching Monday for a pair of imposters targeting some of the borough’s most vulnerable citizens, reports CBS 2’s John Metaxas.

“I think it’s awful. It’s awful, really,” said 89-year-old Pelham Bay resident Rita Bruno.

“Of course I’m scared. I feel so bad,” added Riverdale’s Mary Vinokur.

Bronx seniors are on edge after a wave of crimes have targeted them in their homes.

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Six times since New Year’s Eve, two men posing as Con Edison workers have asked for permission to enter homes to read a water meter or fix a leak.

They’ve then robbed the homes of jewelry and other valuables. Their victims were all between the ages of 69 and 93.

“I know that they were scared because it’s supposed to be a safe neighborhood and that happens,” Riverdale resident Matthew Spellman told Metaxas.

And it’s not just one neighborhood that’s been targeted. Incidents have happened all the way from Pelham Bay to the western part of the Bronx — on Irwin Avenue in Riverdale.

“In a country club. It’s happened in Morris Park, as well as Soundview and Baychester,” said NYC Councilman James Vacca, D-Bronx.

Vacca said the pair of thieves have their routine down pat.

“Basically one talks to the seniors. The other ransacks and takes any valuables in the house,” Vacca said.

Police have released a sketch of one of the suspects, saying quite often the seniors only see one of the men.

In a statement Monday, Con Ed said: “While not all Con Edison employees are required to wear uniforms, all carry a photo identification card.”

And the utility urged customers to use common sense. Know when your meter reader is coming. It’s on your bill.

“They say between 12 and 4 or 8 and 12 — something like that,” Spellman said, referring to times real Con Ed workers would make house calls.

And use your peephole or intercom to identify visitors.

“I never open the door unless I know who it is,” Bruno said.

Councilman Vacca said until the thieves are caught, seniors should be especially cautious.

Con Ed said if customers have any doubts about an employee’s identity, call them and ask for verification of the employees’ identification number.

Does this anger you? Have some suggestions? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

Comments (7)
  1. New Yorker says:

    I think my grandparents just met one of these bandits this week outside their home in Pelham Bay. When my grandmother was out, this stranger saw my grandfather outside, pulled over his car and began speaking to him in Italian (their first language). He greeted my grandfather with big smiles, hugging him and telling him that his father spoke about my grandparents all the time because they had worked together, yet he mentioned no specifics. My grandmother came home just at that moment and he hugged her and began telling her the same thing. She realized something was wrong and him who his father was to which he said Joe. At this point, my grandfather was confused and mentioned the last name of a Joe he worked with. This stranger immediately agreed with the name, but he never gave details about the father or where they had worked – nothing that could be contradicted. HE ASKED TO COME INSIDE FOR WATER, so my grandmother brought him out some water. From there, he kept talking on and on and tried to get them to bring him inside to chat. He even tried to gain their trust by going to the car and pulling out a pair of “$4000” pants that he said he would give them (which he never did). Finally, when he saw they weren’t taking him inside, he said that his father was ill and that he had taken up a collection for him. All along as he had been speaking my grandparents repeatedly asked him, “who are you? We don’t know you.” Finally, my grandmother told him, “I’m sorry we have no money to give you and we DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE.” That’s when he finally left, taking the pants with him. Apparently the man was 5,5″, young and well dressed. When I have a description of the car I’ll post it. DO NOT LET THIS MAN IN YOUR HOUSE!!

  2. bxjuk says:

    theres been a lot of suspicious activity in Parkchester recently. Be careful,

  3. Mary Fiore says:

    Why do we have to allow these strangers in our homes? I have to allow someone walk thru0ut my house to go to the basement to read my meter. Meters should be outside the house.Mary Fiore

  4. David Goldstein says:

    What color or race was the thieves?

  5. bandman says:

    my mom gave a con ed guy a kung fu chop in the throat but he turned out to be a real con ed guy. and he suffered a brain hemorrhage in one of his eyeballs.
    so now my mom’s in jail. be double careful.

  6. terry says:

    if the guys that come dont have any equipment with them like a meter reading device or a gas leak detector meter dont open the door ask to see their ID not just for a number if they dont have 1 tell them you’ll get your bill and proceed to call the police without them knowing so hopefully the cops will get there before they leave

  7. Adam says:

    This happened to my parents in Riverdale/Kingsbridge on Sunday evening. A tall, well dressed guy asked for the number on the gas meter,and my dad said he’d get it for him and closed the door. After giving the number to the guy, he asked to see a bill. My dad asked him for ID, the guy looked shocked and said “I don’t need ID”. My dad told him to get out of the building and called the police, but he was gone on arrival. BE CAREFUL!

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