By Kevin Deutsch
Police are searching for two con artists who talked their way into a senior’s home in Coconut Creek and stole more than $40,000 in high-end jewelry and cash from her closet, police records show.
The burglars in the March 30 theft donned construction-style work clothes and posed as workers sent by the community or homeowner’s association, according to the documents.
The duo apparently targeted the 84-year-old woman’s residence at the 3800 block of Carambola Circle North after seeing her oxygen tanks outside, then put their “well-rehearsed” con into action, according to a Coconut Creek Police incident report.
The victim, who lives alone, told investigators she heard a knock at her door and was greeted by a man wearing a hat, prescription glasses, and pandemic mask. He also wore a gray, zippered jacket and “work pants,” she said, describing him as “stocky,” being in his 40’s-50’s, and standing around 5’6″ or 5’7”, the report states.
The report states that the man told the victim he was “sent by the association” to work on the property and explained the fictional work to be performed in her home.
He asked to show her the areas where he would be working, so she let him in and walked him to the back of the residence.
About that time, an associate of the man, a blonde woman wearing a hat and mask—as if preparing to do maintenance work—walked in through the front door and joined her accomplice, police said.
The victim said that the female thief was short and stocky and wore a pandemic mask of unknown color. She also donned a white hooded sweat jacket with a scoop neck blouse and a necklace with ball charms.
She engaged the victim in conversation, keeping her distracted instead of letting her turn around and see what the man was doing inside her home, the report states.
“[The victim] advised that the female used a walkie-talkie to communicate or pretend to communicate with unknown parties,” police wrote in their report. “The female also reached into her shirt and retrieved a cellphone and text messaged someone.”
The couple’s dialogue seemed to be well-rehearsed, the victim told police.
“While speaking to the female [the victim] discerned that she may” be “being taken advantage of…eventually, [the victim] became upset enough to tell the woman to leave.”
When the victim walked the woman back to the front door, the man was already standing there, as though tipped off by his partner-in-crime.
The two left together and got away in a black sedan.
A witness across the street said the vehicle had its trunk open so that the license plate could not be easily read.
After the crime, the victim checked her home to see if anything was missing. The thieves had stolen two handbags from her closet, which the woman had hidden behind clothes, containing around $40,000 in jewelry and $400 in cash.
Among the items stolen were numerous diamond earrings and necklaces, and pieces adorned with rubies and other precious stones.
According to the report, the victim is dependent on supplemental oxygen and has limited mobility due to the lead lines attached to her oxygen tank.
She leaves her spent oxygen tanks outside her front door because she does not want the delivery man to come inside while exchanging the tanks, police said. She also frequently leaves her front door open to allow cross ventilation.
At the time of the theft, the victim did not have a doorbell camera.
Police “believe these indicators made [the victim] a target for this type of criminal activity,” according to the report.
No arrests had been made in the case as of Tuesday afternoon. But police were investigating whether the same pair of conniving thieves were behind an earlier wave of distraction burglaries.
During the summer of 2020, Coconut Creek residents were among those victimized during the rash of burglaries in which seniors were targeted in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
“The Modus operandi of the thieves were similar in that the suspects used a well-rehearsed ruse to distract the victim while a second suspect stole items of value,” police wrote in their report of the March 30 burglary. “One of the common suspects was described as a short heavyset white male. The suspects used the ruse of completing work on the house or yard. The suspects used walkie-talkies to communicate, and when they fled, they raised the truck’s lids on their vehicle to hide their license plates.”
“Although the incidents are similar, it is unknown if the suspects are the same,” police wrote.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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