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. ••