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Thieves posing as city workers target elderly, police say

One scam artist lured an elderly homeowner into his back yard, while an accomplice rummaged the house, police say.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thieves posing as city utility workers targeted southeastern Wake County neighborhoods with a large proportion of older residents, Raleigh police said.

Robbery victim Basily Ayers, 83, said he's survived four strokes and four heart attacks, but the robbery shook him.

"It's bad enough to do it to anybody, but to pick on somebody like us (senior citizens), it just really devastated me," said Ayers, 83, adding that he's lived for more than 50 years in what he described as a quiet neighborhood.

Police said two senior citizens reported similar thefts in which a man came to their door and claimed to be checking water or sewer lines.

Ayers said he was suspicious of the man and wouldn't let him into his house.

"He said, 'Well, you're not going to let me in. I said, 'No, I'm not,'" the homeowner said.

Ayers followed the man to his back yard, telling him the whole time that no sewer lines went under the lawn.

Ayers' suspicions were confirmed when he went back into his house after the man left, he said.

"I got up and went to the chest of drawers in the bedroom," he said. "And I pulled the top one open, and it was everything mixed up, and the money was gone."

Ayers said he doesn't usually keep money in the house but had set aside some money for bills. That cash was gone, he said.

Police said the description of the crimes hints at an accomplice who might have entered the homes while the victim was in the back yard.

Another victim said someone took more than $200 and valuables from his house while he and a man claiming to be a city worker were in the back yard.

Dale Crisp, director of the city’s Public Utilities Department, said all public employees would wear uniforms and carry City of Raleigh identification. Both victims said the culprit was not in uniform and did not provide ID.

One report described the suspect as an unshaven white man with red hair wearing a red and white shirt, blue pants and an orange jacket. He was said to stand 5 feet 8 inches tall and weigh about 150 pounds.

The other report described a brown-haired white man 5 feet 5 inches tall wearing khaki shorts.

Both victims reported the suspect was driving a pickup truck. One described a dark green truck with a light-colored stripe; the other described a brown truck with a yellow light on top.

Residents are asked to call police immediately if they are approached under similar circumstances.

Anyone with information that might assist the investigation of these two larceny cases is asked to call the Raleigh Police Department’s Detective Division at 919-890-3555 or Crime Stoppers at 919-226-2746.