Archive for Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Man wrangles way into seniors’ houses

June 23, 2004

Tonganoxie police are warning local residents -- particularly elderly local residents -- about allowing strangers in their homes.

During the past week, a man posing as a water department employee has struck in Leavenworth, Lansing and Atchison, as well as portions of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

And Tonganoxie police officers said that on Saturday a Tonganoxie woman was the victim of the same man, or someone using the man's ruse to enter elderly people's homes to steal money or other valuables.

"He knocked on the door and said there was something wrong with the water," said Billy Adcox, lead detective for Tonganoxie police.

He entered her home and asked her to turn on the kitchen faucet. While she was doing that, the man took $100 in cash and the woman's keys before fleeing.

"That's the way they're doing it," Adcox said.

Adcox said they're not certain the man who stole the Tonganoxie woman's money and keys was the same man who's struck in area towns.

Regardless, it's important for people to know who they're allowing to enter their homes, Adcox said.

"If someone says they're there for the water, have them call us and we'll check it out before they let them in," he said.

Adcox said officers far would rather respond before an incident than after one.

Tonganoxie police said the local woman didn't see a vehicle and didn't provide a detailed description of the man who entered her home.

But according to witnesses in Leavenworth, Lansing and Atchison, a man driving a white car last week victimized four elderly residents of those communities.

Lansing police Chief John Simmons said the man told an elderly Lansing woman that he was a city employee who wanted to ensure no dirt was left in a water main after a line break.

"The person was a trusting person and allowed the gentleman to enter the residence," Simmons said.

He asked to be taken to the washing machine, and she took him to the basement, where he told her he needed her to stay and turn the water off and on.

"She remained downstairs and he went upstairs," Simmons said.

After not receiving any more direction from the man about when to turn on and off the water, the woman went upstairs, where she saw that her purse had been rummaged through and cash was missing.

"I have a problem with people who prey on the very young or the very old," Simmons said.

Leavenworth police Lt. Pat Kitchens said that, generally, employees of utility departments do not appear -- unannounced -- at residents' doors.

"If you're not sure, call 911, and we'll come out and check," Kitchens said. "Or call the water department."

The man in two Leavenworth cases is described as a white man in his late 20s or early 30s, who is missing his top four front teeth and sporting tattoos on his knuckles and ear lobes. He's driving a 1995 white Hyundai with Missouri license plate 531XFN.

The man also has struck several times in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

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