Utility scam artists burglarize Bustleton man

Scam artists pos­ing as a pub­lic util­ity crew robbed an eld­erly Bustleton man of thou­sands of dol­lars in prop­erty, the deed to his home and the price­less ashes of his de­ceased wife last month.

Now, Phil­adelphia po­lice are seek­ing the pub­lic’s help in identi­fy­ing the heart­less grift­ers.

De­tect­ives last Wed­nes­day re­leased a sketch of the lead man in the dar­ing ruse, which oc­curred on Jan. 25 on the 9500 block of Wal­ley Ave.

The 71-year-old wid­ower heard a knock on his front door at about 9:30 a.m. The vis­it­or iden­ti­fied him­self as a city work­er who “needed to check the wires” be­hind the vic­tim’s home, po­lice said. The lead crook coaxed the vic­tim in­to the back­yard and dis­trac­ted him for about a half-hour. At one point, the im­poster said he had to in­spect the vic­tim’s wa­ter pipes and ac­com­pan­ied him back in­to the house, but the two men soon re­turned to the yard, po­lice said.

Even­tu­ally, the lead crook told the vic­tim he had to re­trieve some pa­per­work from his util­ity truck. The im­poster nev­er re­turned to the house and was last seen driv­ing south­bound on Wal­ley Road.

When the vic­tim re­turned to his house, he dis­covered that someone else had entered through the front door and stolen a free-stand­ing met­al safe from one of his bed­rooms. The safe con­tained $4,000 cash, a $25,000 rare coin col­lec­tion, the homeown­er’s deed, the title to his car, in­sur­ance pa­pers and an urn with his wife’s re­mains.

The vic­tim nev­er saw the second crook, but de­scribed the fake util­ity work­er as white, un­shaven, with a me­di­um to heavy build. Po­lice did not spe­cify the crook’s height. He wore a 3/4-length dark coat and light dress pants. He drove a late-mod­el sil­ver mini-van, pos­sibly a Chrysler. He spoke with a His­pan­ic-sound­ing ac­cent, ac­cord­ing to the vic­tim.

The safe is a Centen­ni­al brand and dark green in col­or.

Phil­adelphia po­lice ob­tained a sketch of a pos­sible sus­pect from au­thor­it­ies in Lower Mo­re­land Town­ship, where a sim­il­ar crime oc­curred re­cently.

Call North­east De­tect­ives at 215-686-3153 to re­port in­form­a­tion about the case. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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