Police bust suspected scam

January 9, 2008 4:53:45 PM PST
It seems Philadelphia police have busted an alleged burglar who, they say, posed as a policeman. Philadelphia Major Crimes division showcased a small cache of personal items at its headquarters Wednesday.

Among them, jewelry, a classic camera, and a series of service medals, including a purple heart. Investigators believe they were stolen by 33-year-old Christopher Smith of Northeast Philadelphia.

"He is the guy in my opinion and detectives' opinion has been victimizing people in northeast Philadelphia for an unknown period of time," Captain John Gallagher said.

When arrested near his home on Torresdale Avenue last Thursday, police say Smith was carrying a gym bag stuffed with stolen items and tools they believe he used to break into houses. They charged him with three recent crimes.

Police allege he followed an elderly woman to her house on December 18th, impersonated a water department employee to gain her trust and entry into her home, and then stole $2000 in cash and jewelry.

Investigators charge Smith broke into a home on Christmas day and stole gifts from under the tree and other valuables.

On December 30th, he allegedly flashed a badge, identified himself as a cop to an unsuspecting victim then brandished a knife and made the victim go to Circuit City and purchase items for him. While an informant tipped police off, investigators say Smith has long been on their radar with previous arrests for burglary and impersonating public servants.

"Christopher Smith is a known professional burglar. He uses every ruse that he can in the book. He will indentify himself as an employee of PECO, the water department, a tree trimmer a police officer or a construction worker," Gallagher said.

One of two jackets Smith may have used to impersonate public servants might be prison garb.

Police plan to charge 44 year old Robert Stanley as Smith's accomplice. They hope the owners of these stolen items will recognize them and call police.