Nassau County police are investigating a string of deception burglaries that occurred between Thursday, June 19 and Friday, June 20 in Syosset, Westbury and Herricks.
Police said the suspects pose as National Grid employees and target senior citizens. They tell victims a water check is needed to determine possible gas leaks.
Police stated the suspects would be with the victims for a short time, before moving to another side of the house to look for valuable items.
“We know that these individuals are preying on our senior citizens,” Nassau Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith said. “People who look like they can be taken very easily. We suspect that they plan targets out in advance.”
In Syosset on June 19 at 3:30 p.m., an 85-year-old female victim answered a door to find a man, asking to check water lines. Police said the man displayed an identification tag.
Authorities did not have a description of the suspect in Syosset.
“They went around the house, checking faucets, going from room to room,” Smith said. “Then, they separated briefly and he leaves. After she’s turned the water on and off a few times, she discovers she’s missing some jewelry.”
A 79-year-old Herricks woman on Pine Street received a knock at her front door on June 20 at 12:40 p.m., where a man posing as a utility worker said there was a gas explosion in the area, police said. The woman was told to turn sink faucets on and off while the subject worked in a bathroom near the master bedroom.
Assorted gold jewelry was stolen from the residence, police stated.
“There was several thousand dollars of jewelry missing,” Smith said. “We see this happens from time to time. It’s another ploy on tree trimming and electricity, where people deceive you to come into your house.”
Police described the suspect as a male with dark skin, 5-foot-7 inches tall, 30-35 years old. The man, police said, had a blue ink tattoo on his right forearm, spoke with a lisp or stutter and wore a construction hat and vest.
“People who are seniors do a lot of things face-to-face,” Smith said. “You can easily follow a senior citizen home and at a later date, go to the house and pull off this scam. We want people to be aware of this and neighbors to look out for each other.”
Police said on June 20 at 2:30 p.m. in Westbury, a 66-year-old man responded to knocks at his door, finding two men at his door. Authorities described one as a light-skinned male with black eyes, between 5-foot-2 inches tall, 35-40 years old, with a medium to heavy build. Using the gas leak excuse, the two men separated, with one checking the water meter while another stays with the victim.
Smith said the man found that special coins and other cash was missing from rooms upstairs.
“At that point, the second guy leaves to go upstairs to check on his partner and a short time later, [the victim] goes upstairs and finds both of them are gone,” Smith said.
Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-8477. All calls will remain confidential. Callers are eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.