If you are an area senior citizen, state police say you should be aware a group of thieves could be targeting you and your home for their next crime.
According to authorities, the crimes are becoming an unfortunate annual sign of warmer weather in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
A Miller Road, Milford woman was the victim of the latest robbery last Thursday around 1 p.m., state police said. They reported the 82-year-old was home alone when three men arrived at her front door, stating they worked for the water company.
The woman had a well, not public water servicing her property.
The men proceeded into the home, where they ransacked the interior, looking for valuables. Police said they left with a cloth sack filled with unknown valuables. A total estimate of the stolen items is still being determined.
In what police believe could be a related case, Art Shup, 92, was in his Milford Square Pike, Milford home when a young man and woman appeared at his front door. They told him they were roofing contractors.
In an interview Monday, Shup said he thought he knew the woman, so he invited them in. The pair asked him for $185. When the World War II vet told them he didn’t have that kind of cash around the house, the man became irate.
“’I know you do,’ he said,” Shup recalled. “So I offered to write them a check. ‘We don’t take checks,’ the man said,” becoming adamant that Shup give them the cash.
He complied, saying he thought he would rather give them the money than have an altercation in his home, and the pair fled. Shup told police the getaway vehicle may have been a pickup truck with a tan cap.
The former US Army intelligence officer said he was surprised at their brazen approach.
“She sat right there in that chair,” he said, pointing to an arm chair in his living room. “I still think to this day that I know that woman from somewhere.”
“Somebody knew what they were doing,” he said. “They are taking advantage of people. Let them try this senior citizen again. I’m ready for them.”
State police interviewed neighbors in what Shup said used to be a “quiet little community.” No one has recalled seeing any suspicious vehicles or people to date. An investigation is ongoing.
Cpl. Daniel Jones of Pennsylvania State Police, Dublin, attributed the crimes to “typical gypsy activity.” The crimes occur as the suspects pose, usually as contractors or public works employees, usually targeting the elderly.
“It’s consistent with that, where transients use deception to gain access to a home where they distract the homeowner and either take valuables or case the home to come back later,” Jones said. “It’s common throughout the county. This year, it seems to be starting a little earlier in the season.”
Jones said seniors can take several steps to avoid becoming victims. He recommends they never let anyone in their home if they are alone.
“Never let anyone into the house under any circumstances,” he said.
In some cases the suspects have stolen legitimate, local business signs and portray an employee from that particular company, Jones said, noting even asking for identification may not be enough.
He said authorities rely on the public to report suspicious activity, and shouldn’t be afraid to call if they see someone or something out of place.
Anyone with information on the robberies in Milford Township is asked to call PSP Dublin at (215)249-9191.