UPDATE: Burglars Scam Elderly Residents In Bethesda, Chevy Chase

Police says two suspects posing as water authority employees attempted to gain entrance into homes in Bethesda and Chevy Chase and in one case, jewelry is missing.

Update (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 5 p.m.): Police released additional information on Tuesday afternoon about two scams involving suspects posing as utility workers in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area on Friday, Oct. 26. One of the scams involved a burglary.

The first scam took place shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Friday, in the 5300 block of Sherrill Avenue, Bethesda. 

The victim, an 87-year-old woman, heard a knock at the door, answered it and found a male suspect in tan pants and a hard hat claiming to work for the Bethesda Water Company. He told the woman that he needed to check the water pressure in her house because of a water main break, according to a police report.

A neighbor then arrived at the house to check on the woman, and the suspect fled. He never entered the house and was last seen getting into a gray Saturn vehicle, police said.

On the same day, shortly before noon, the second scam took place, in the 5200 block of Alta Vista Road, Bethesda.

An 86-year-old woman opened her house's door to find a male suspect in blue jeans, a reflective vest and a hard hat. The man gave the same story as did the suspect in the first scam: He was from the water company, there was a water main break, and he needed to check the water pressure in the house's basement, according to the police.

In this instance, though, the suspect did enter the house. While he and the woman were in the basement, the woman heard footsteps upstairs. When she asked the suspect about the noise, he quickly left the house.

Back upstairs, the woman discovered that there was jewelry missing from her bedroom.

Police warn that there will be an increased amount of utility work in the aftermath of Sandy, and that residents need to check for identification from anyone claiming to need access to their homes. 

"Please be aware that all utility workers will carry proper identification. If a worker is unable to provide proper identification, do not allow him or her to enter your residence. Additionally, you may check with your utility companies to determine whether the company has workers in your area before allowing the worker to enter your home," police said in the report.

Anyone with information about these incidents or about the suspects should contact the 2nd District Investigative Section at 301-657-0112.

Original post (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2:48 p.m.): Elderly residents in Bethesda and Chevy Chase were targeted by burglars posing as water authority employees, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said at a news conference Tuesday.

The conference was called to update the press on the county’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

Both incidents happened Friday, ahead of the arrival of the storm.

In one instance, two suspects came to a home posing as water authority employees and told an elderly resident they needed to come inside. While one suspect took the victim to the basement, purportedly to check water pressure, the second suspect stole jewelry from the upper level of the home, Manger said.

In a second incident, the suspects, again posing as water authority employees, targeted a home with an elderly resident. The crime was thwarted, however, after a neighbor intervened.

Manger said the neighbor had to dodge the suspects’ vehicle as they fled.

“The message I think we need to send here is, if someone comes to your door and claims to be with some organization, before you let them into your home, make sure they show you identification,” Manger said at the conference. “…If you have any suspicions or any sense at all they may be up to no good, don’t let them into your home; we’ll come check them out.”


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