Men posed as water company employees, stole from 95-year-old woman

- Investigators at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office are searching for two suspects who allegedly posed as water company employees to gain entry to a 95-year-old woman’s home to steal valuables. They say it was a classic "distraction scam."

Deputies on Thursday were called to the victim’s home on Banana Lake Drive, after she reported that a man came to her door claiming to be with an unnamed water company needing to do work in her home.

"Once inside the suspect engaged the victim in conversation about a fifty-dollar refund she would receive. He then produced a $100 bill and asked if the victim had change. While the victim was distracted, another suspect entered the victim’s home without her knowledge and stole several items," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Bob Kealing.

The encounter was recorded on a home surveillance camera.  In the video, one of the guys talks his way into the house saying he works for the water company. He talks with the woman while his partner sneaks around the woman's home. The victim, Ruth Peck, said she didn't know it happened until she looked at the recording.

“You could see it, on his arm, going out this way,” Peck said, “still I didn't see it, I thought there was only one!”

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said they stole more than a thousand dollars worth of jewelry. 

“They don’t need to be out in society I don’t think they need to be locked away as long as they live,” Peck said.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said don't fall for these scams.

“If someone comes up and knocks on your door, do what you can to verify,” Lemma said.  “If you feel uncomfortable, don't even open the door. Call the Sheriff's Office. But we always tell them to let that individual at the door know that someone is home.”

Peck says these guys better not knock on her door again.

“I really don’t know what I would do to them if I was able.  No telling what i might want to do to them.”

Deputies want to know if this could be connected to another other incident in the area. 

The Sheriff’s Office reminds residents to follow these safety tips to avoid becoming a burglary victim:

  • Call 911 immediately to report suspicious activity, persons, or vehicles.
  • Always lock doors, windows and sliding glass doors, even when you are home.
  • If you are at home and the doorbell rings, go to the door to investigate who is there and let them know that a person is inside.
  • If you are confronted by someone claiming to be a worker, contractor, or any professional person, ask for identification and a business card.
  • Research the phone number of the company they claim to be with and call for verification.

Anyone with information on this crime or the identity of the suspects is asked to call the Seminole County Sheriff's Office at 407-665-1481 or Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS (8477).  You can remain anonymous and you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.
 

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