Police are warning residents about a man who is posing as a water company employee and targeting the elderly.
Wednesday afternoon, the Overland Park Police Department took two separate reports from residents who told them a white man came to their door posing as an employee of the WaterOne water company who made his way into their homes and then took off with small valuables.
Since then, Raytown and Independence police also reported instances of a man with a similar description using the same ruse to steal from victims.
Frances Quick, 75, was one of the victims in Overland Park. Her husband passed away in July.
She said the man asked to come inside the home in order to check the pipes in their backyard, citing problems with a water main break. She said she didn't think to demand he use the outside gate because he was so polite.
"He was very complimentary of the flower arrangements in my house," Quick said.
Once he got in the backyard, he started taking measurements and asked for help from the victim. He then said he had to go back outside and get some more equipment from his vehicle. While the victim was still in the backyard, the man stole items from inside the house and quickly left.
The man took Quick's wallet and a sentimental ring.
"It was a gift from a very dear friend of mine who passed away. It was given to me as a reminder of our friendship," she said. "And I had set it on the dresser drawer, and he found it, and he took it with him."
Quick said, before her husband's death, he had always warned her about scams, but this one was different and didn't show any warning signs.
"My husband, before he passed away, had always told me, 'Honey, don't open the door. Never open the door.' And what do I do? I open the door. So I'm alerting everyone else, 'Don't open the door,'" she said.
The suspect was described as a white man, approximately 6' tall and 170 pounds, with brown hair. He wore a dark blue ball cap, plaid shirt with a black undershirt, gold necklace, blue jeans and black work shoes.
Raytown police said victims described the man to them as being between 40 and 50 years old with a thin build. He matched the description given in the Overland Park cases, except victims this time said he was wearing a denim shirt. He was also seen entering a dark green Ford Taurus.
Independence police said their victims told them a man matching a similar description might also have been missing front teeth. He told one of the victims his name was Roy.
The Overland Park Police Department said they are advising residents to ask for proper identification before letting someone inside their homes to do any kind of repair or utility work. If in doubt, residents, especially the elderly, are encouraged to contact the utility company or the police department to assist.
The other victims were an 83-year-old woman and her 91-year-old husband. Both victims only live a mile from each other.
In the Raytown incident, police said the man told the victims that their water needed to be turned off under a sink. He then left with the promise of returning to turn their water back on, but it was later discovered the water hadn't been turned off at all and property had been stolen instead.
In Independence, he told the residents he needed to check the plumbing in their house.
WaterOne has information on their website about how to identify a member of their team.
"Most WaterOne employees who will be working in your neighborhood will be wearing clothing with a WaterOne logo and will be driving a clearly marked WaterOne vehicle," they wrote on their website.
Mandy Cawby, spokesperson for WaterOne, said they also have a strict policy for their employees to not enter a home, not even for bathroom breaks.
"That's for the customer's protection as well as the employee's," Cawby said.
She went on to say that most employees don't have water lines in the back of their homes.
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