News and Tribune

February 12, 2013

Burglars pose as city employees

$20K taken from Sellersburg home in unusual crime

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

SELLERSBURG — The home of an elderly Sellersburg couple was targeted by thieves posing as city employees earlier this month, police say.

Sellersburg police Chief Russ Whelan said a man wearing a yellow hard hat and carrying a two-way radio knocked on the front door of a home on West Utica Street about noon Feb. 1.

The 83-year-old homeowner allowed the man, who said he was with the city’s water department, into his home after he was told the water pressure in the home needed to be checked.

Whelan said the unsuspecting homeowner and the man walked throughout the home checking water faucets on the first and second floors.

While a second suspect was never seen by the homeowner, who was home alone at the time of the incident, police believe at least one other person entered the home and stole approximately $20,000 in property while the initial intruder distracted the homeowner.

It was not until the intruder left the home that the homeowner realized he had been victimized by a burglar.

Whelan said a safe, coins and other items were stolen from the home.

The homeowner described the intruder as a Hispanic male who spoke English well and was very polite, Whelan said.

He said the intruder was in the home for nearly 20 minutes.

While in the home, the intruder spoke Spanish though his two-way radio, Whelan said.

Police believe the man could have been giving instructions to his partner when to enter and exit the home, unbeknownst to the homeowner. 

The intruder was traveling in a white car, without any labeling, Whelan said.

The homeowner told police the man did not show any identification that he was a city employee.

Whelan stressed that all people should ask any service professional who comes to their home for proper identification before allowing that person into their home, especially, he said, if the person arrives unannounced.

“If they can't produce an ID, don’t let them in the home and call the police,” Whelan said.

He added that if a homeowner has any suspicions of someone wanting to come into a home, to call the company they claim to work for to verify the visit.

“If they are legit, they are not going to mind that you call to verify,” Whelan said.

He said the extended time that the intruders were in the home and that they were equipped with radios shows they had likely committed similar burglaries in the past.

“They were very well prepared for what they were doing,” Whelan said. “It is bad enough we have this type of crime, but when people are victimizing the elderly, it is very irritating for me.”