FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – There is an uptick in distraction robberies in Pompano Beach, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office wants everyone to be aware that the thieves are conning residents.

An 88-year-old woman, on Wednesday, who asked not to be named, spoke to reporters at Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters about being victimized.

On Halloween day, the woman said she returned to her condo in the Palm Aire community after undergoing a surgical procedure at her dermatologist’s office.

The victim, because of medication, said she was “off” and was walking a little slower than usual with her walker. At the door to the condo she saw a man on the phone talking about flooding in her building.

Later she let the man into her unit when he said he had to check for leaks because of a pipe that had burst.

While he was in her unit she said another man knocked at the door.

They told her to remove items from a kitchen cabinet where the pipe ran through the wall.  And while one man stood with her, the other man searched the unit for valuables to steal.

Later she realized that the two men had stolen $75,000 worth of jewelry, including a three carat engagement ring from her late husband plus $350 cash.

“It never occurred to me they were doing anything wrong. They were polite and nice. I keep beating myself up over what happened. I’m not stupid.  I have three masters and I was chair of a department.  I knew better and it didn’t matter.”

BSO said there have been at least five other of these type of distraction crimes in Pompano Beach in recent months. The scenario is the same. The thieves target an elderly resident and pretend they are maintenance workers to gain the confidence of the targeted individual.

“They are preying on the elderly because they are more trusting,” said BSO detective Tim Bush. “Challenge the people knocking at your door. Make them give you a reason to contact the condo president or maintenance manager and verify they are legitimate.”

The victim, as well, has a message. “What I would say is don’t make yourself a target. Be careful of everything because I was a target.”

If you have information give Broward Crimestoppers a call (954) 493-TIPS.

Anyone who recognizes them or knows who they are should call Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.


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