MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Police in the town of Surfside are trying to round up a couple of guys who have been targeting the elderly in distraction robberies.

On Sunday, April 22nd, Miller Mitchell, 54, posed as a water/sewer employee and knocked on the front door of a home in the 9800 block of Carlyle Avenue.

 Miller told the woman there was an emergency water leak and his partner needed to go inside to check on some things. While Miller kept the woman busy near the front door, the second man stole jewelry from several bedrooms

“Right now there’s a major water and sewer project,” said Surfside Police officer Jay Matelis. “Thieves are taking advantage of that.”

“I wouldn’t have opened the door unless they said it was an emergency and they were working up the street. That’s why I opened the door. It’s plausible,” said the 85 year old victim, who asked not to be identified. “I think it’s terrible. You live all your life. At my age. I’ve never been robbed.”

She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I think they’re horrible. They should be jailed immediately if they can get them. I feel very nervous. I am very emotional and upset.”

A week later, at about 2:30 p.m., a second elderly woman reported that two Hispanic males used a similar ruse to steal a jewelry box from a bedroom. Instead of a leak, they men said they were there to collect water samples.

“A gentleman came to my door and asked to test the water and if he could come in and I said yes,” said the woman who also did not wish to be identified. “I went to the kitchen and he told me to put some cold water on and then some hot water. Then he put on some gloves and went under the sink and something and then said ‘you have a leak’.”

While this was going on, the man’s partner ransacked another room in the house; stealing valuable pearls, necklaces, pins, ear rings, bracelets and other jewelry.

“I had a wooden box that was made in Russia and I kept all silver jewelry in there,” said the woman. “I’m very upset with myself for trusting them. I’ve lived here for many years, since 1956 in this house.”

The woman said she felt a little angry that she was duped.

“They’re the ones that pick on us. They pick on us because we are trustworthy. The young people are smarter than us. We are so trustworthy that we let them in.”

“I’m angry with myself for being so trustworthy. I’m going to not be so trustworthy in the future,” she told D’Oench. “I will ask for identification. I would love it if they were caught. I’m sure it’s not the first time that they have done this.”

Police have not said if Mitchell was one of the two men in the second robbery.

Mitchell, 54, is described as being about 5’5” with a thin build. He’s missing his front teeth and has a mole on the right side of his neck. He’s also driving a maroon colored SUV, possibly a GMC Envoy.

Surfside police suspect the distraction robbers from these cases are tied to a theft ring that has hit Hollywood, South Miami, North Miami Beach and Boca Raton.

“You should always check to see that people like that are wearing uniforms,” said Matelis. “If they look suspicious call police. Don’t let them in. And you should even call the company who people say they are working for.”

Police on Tuesday afternoon went door to door along Carlyle Avenue, passing out flyers and warning residents about the distraction thieves.

Anyone who has information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Surfside police at (305) 861-4862.



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