Alleged utility worker imposter behind bars

RHAWNHURST - September 22, 2009

There has been a rash of similar robberies in this area over the past year or so, suspects posing as utility workers who target the elderly.

Harry and Lillian Kanner have lived in their home for 30 years and the water department has never showed up at their front door. So when a man posing as utility worker walked up and knocked Harry wasn't buying it.

"Something didn't look right. He goes in and says 'water meter man'. He said 'did you pay your bill?' I said 'yes, sure I paid my bill'."

The suspect, John Mitchell of Westville, New Jersey, allegedly pushed past Harry who gets around with a walker and proceeded into the couple's kitchen.

Mitchell began rummaging through the couple's belongings, but what he didn't know, investigators with the Major Crimes Unit were on his tail. They were looking into similar crimes against the elderly in the area, and noticed Mitchell as he approached the Kanner's home. The officers moved in and made the arrest.

"He had some sort of identification on him and that's kind of what drew the attention of the investigators, the clip board, the hat, the glasses and some sort of identification with a chain on it," explained Deputy Commissioner William Blackburn.

Mitchell faces burglary and other related charges. They're trying to connect him to other crimes.

If someone claiming to be a utility worker shows up at your front door, police say call them, and they will respond to help verify the worker's identity.

You can get the latest crime statistics from the Philadelphia Police by CLICKING HERE for the force's crime data mapping site.

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