Highland Heights police: Crooks are targeting the elderly by pretending to be from the water department

Don’t let them in, says Police Chief James Cook. Call police instead.

Highland Heights water department impersonators

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Highland Heights Police Chief James Cook is warning the public that crooks are targeting the elderly by pretending to be employees from the water department.

Two homes have been hit in two days in Highland Heights, according to police. The victims told detectives that men claiming to be employees of the water department knocked at their door saying there was a water concern related to COVID-19.

“They’re targeting older residents,” said Cook. “They’re identifying themselves as utility workers, gaining entry to the house, and committing thefts. I can’t emphasize enough if anyone comes to your door and identifies themselves as a utility worker, cable company or any other reason and tells you they have to gain entry to your house, call your local police immediately and have them check it out. We’re concerned with the older residents and people entering homes like that.”

Police believe that once the suspects are inside a home they have one man go one direction and the other in another direction to distract the homeowner while they steal cash, jewelry, and other valuables.

In both cases, investigators say the people responsible wore uniforms to appear as if they are utility workers, and they carried a badge.

Highland Heights Detectives are working overtime as they gather evidence and work towards making an arrest.

Officers have identified two vehicles and have asked other departments to be on the lookout for the vehicles that police believe are stolen, just like the license plate. Both vehicles spotted on surveillance video had the same stolen tag.

Police say one of the victims of the distraction burglaries was in their 90s and are thankful that no one has been physically harmed so far during these crimes.

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.