Man steals jewelry in water testing scam

Man posing as utility worker steals from elderly couple in Tamarac

Author: Todd Tongen, Reporter, Anchor, ttongen@Local10.com
Published On: Oct 05 2012 11:27:38 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 06 2012 12:20:18 AM EDT
Water scam sketch
TAMARAC, Fla. -

The Broward Sheriff's Office released a sketch of a thief who posed as a utility worker when he stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from an elderly couple.

The theft happened in the 7400 block of Northwest 94 Avenue in Tamarac on September 13.

According to BSO, the thief told the couple he was there to test the water by spraying a substance into their toilets and sinks. The couple let him inside their home, telling police they believed him because utility crews had been in the neighborhood the week prior.

"He came to the door wearing a hard hat and a reflective vest, so he looked the part. He was very nice, very professional," said Veda Coleman-Wright with BSO.

While in the bathroom, the thief sprayed a liquid on the 96-year-old man's arm and said it was acid. The three went into the bedroom, and the thief told the 91-year-old woman to stay with her husband while he got a treatment cream from his vehicle.

"So, then the suspect says, 'You need to get that cleaned off. It is acid,'" said Coleman-Wright. "So, while the victims are trying to get the substance off and clean up, he is cleaning them out and taking their valuables."

The thief stole a box full of jewelry worth thousands of dollars.

The crime has put neighbors on edge.

"I do feel for them. I'm scared to death when anyone opens, you know, when anyone knocks at my door now," said Rosemary Hughes.

"I think it stinks because if you can't answer your door without afraid of being robbed,  it is a police state or it is a criminal state, actually," said Gerry Hughes.

"It really, really bothers me. I'm a director for an assisted living community, so, for me, it's really touches my heart. It is disturbing," said Nicole Sutton.

Police passed out flyers in the neighborhood Friday, but some neighbors said they may take matters into their own hands if the thief returns.

"If you could say something to this guy, what would you say to him?" asked Local 10's Todd Tongen.

"Come on over and let me show him my new baseball bat," said Gerry Hughes.

"Come here again and I swear to god you won't make it off this block," said Sutton.

The thief is described as about 6 feet tall, about 180 pounds, between 20 and 25-years-old with light-colored hair and possibly blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a yellow hard hat, a traffic-style reflective vest (possibly orange with yellow fluorescent striping) and light-colored pants. The couple said he spoke with an accent.

Anyone with information in this case should call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.