Two bandits targeting Berks Co. seniors

July 6, 2009 4:05:07 PM PDT
It doesn't happen often in rural Berks County, but it appears that two serial bandits are on the loose and their targets seem to be senior citizens."They definitely know what they're doing it's a major scheme that is basically being on elderly people which is really sad," said Det. Sgt. Brian Horner of the Northern Berks Regional Police.

And the victim they stole from in Maidencreek Township is a 74-year-old woman who was robbed of her life savings.

Investigators say at least 2 men posing as employees of a fence company knocked on the victim's door asking her to show them the rear property marker because the neighbor wants to put up a fence.

And while the victim was in the backyard with one of the scammers, the other snuck into the home and entered her bedroom where the victim kept a safe full of valuables.

She didn't even know she was robbed until hours after the thieves left.

"She went inside and when she went upstairs she noticed her closet was open which wasn't open and when she went there was the safe missing."

That safe contained more than $100,000 in cash and some jewelry.

And now, state police tell us an identical crime took place hours earlier a few towns over in Longswamp Township to 84-year-old Geraldine Conrad.

Her neighbors say they're heartbroken that something like this could happen.

"The neighbors do know that she lives alone and we do keep an eye on her and when something like that happens to an individual like that, to me it's very upsetting and I'm sure it is to the other neighbors too," said Randy Moll.

In Ms. Conrad's case, the scammers didn't make off with anything valuable but the home was ransacked and neighbors say she's terrified that the thieves will come back.

Investigators are now warning people around here who live alone, especially the elderly, to not be so trusting of people.

"There are people that are out there doing this and you know to be on your guard," said Trooper Ed Maloney of the Pa. State Police, Reading. "(If) they're saying they are from a company ask for credentials, verify who they are."

We're told the woman whose safe was stolen recently pulled her money from her bank over concerns of the banking crisis.

Investigators want to know of other similar crimes.

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