By Ted Scouten

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – It appears elderly residents in Fort Lauderdale’s exclusive Coral Ridge neighborhood may be targets of thieves who struck three times in a week.

It began Wednesday, January 3 when an 84-year-old woman opened the door to a man claiming to be a plumber. He raced in saying she had a leak flooding the condominium below her and he was there to stop it.

The woman, who spoke exclusively to CBS4’s Ted Scouten, did not want to be identified. She told Scouten the man created chaos to distract her.

“He’s got this spray bottle with him,” she explained. She said he squirted a liquid on her hands and said, “Oh, I got that on your ring we have to do something. He said ‘You got to take your rings off and put it in there.’ I said, ‘First of all folks, they’re not coming off.’  I said ‘No, No, I don’t, No’”

While all this was going on another man went into the closet cleaning out the jewelry cabinet, snatching 22-thousand dollars worth of gems and gold. Then, she said, the man grabbed her, apparently wanting her 3-carat diamond.

Big mistake she recalled.

“I whacked him,” she said. “Honey, my punch is not that strong. I wish it had broken his ear,” she continued, “He looked a little bit startled and then I let out the blood curdling screeching.”

He got away with a mark on his face and damaged pride but not her ring.

Investigators are checking see if he and his accomplice also used a distraction to burglarize another home a few blocks away on Thursday, January 4.

In this case, the crooks posed as a public works employees.  They also got jewelry.

Saturday, January 6, a third house a few blocks away was the target.  Two men fitting the same description and a woman posed as homebuyers going to an open house.  While the real estate agent was distracted, thieves took 18-thousand dollars worth of jewelry.

In all but the last case, the victims were elderly, possibly seen as easy targets.

The woman in the first case let him know even at 84, she was going to defend herself.

“Never let anyone put his hands on you,” she remembered her mom telling her. “If he hadn’t grabbed for me, he could have gotten out. Greed! Message here is greed.”

If you have any information that can help police find the people responsible call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. 

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