Police warn residents about 'distraction' burglaries, release sketch of suspect

Nassau police are urging senior citizens be suspicious about criminals posing as utility workers asking to come inside their homes. Neighbors are encouraged to be on the lookout for their neighbors, and to report any suspicious activity similar to the burglaries to the police. June 25, 2014 (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

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Police are warning residents about two men posing as National Grid workers who are responsible for stealing thousands of dollars' worth of valuables in three "distraction" burglaries in Nassau County last week.

The burglaries, targeting seniors, took place in the early afternoon, police said. In each case, a man knocked on the victim's door and identified himself as a National Grid worker checking out a gas explosion. The suspect told the residents that he would have to come inside and check the water for a gas leak, stayed with the victim briefly, before going to another part of the residence and disappearing with valuables.

"Don't let anyone in your house," said Nassau Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith in a news conference Wednesday.

He said that while county employees carry photo identification, it is not easy to discern real from fake IDs. Smith urged people to "call police if you are the least bit suspicious" of a worker.

Police released sketches of the suspects Wednesday. Targets were most likely picked in advance, police said.

The first of the so-called distraction burglaries occurred at 3:30 p.m. last Thursday in Syosset where an 85-year-old woman had jewelry taken.

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The two other burglaries took place in Herricks at 12:40 p.m. last Friday, when a 79-year-old woman had jewelry taken, and in Westbury at 2:30 p.m. the same day, when a 66-year-old man had cash stolen.

Residents are advised to keep doors and windows locked even when they're home; set the burglar alarm even if they're stepping out only briefly; and stash valuables, including cash and jewelry, away in less overt places.Investigators ask anyone with information about the burglaries to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

Callers are eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.

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