Police: Man posed as Philadelphia Water Department employee in robbery

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Friday, May 3, 2019
Police: Man posed as Philadelphia Water Department employee in robbery
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Police: Man posed as Philadelphia Water Department employee in robbery. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 4pm on May 3, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Investigators say a man posed as a Philadelphia Water Department employee during a robbery in Grays Ferry.

The suspect was captured on surveillance video around 8 a.m. on April 23 in the 3600 block of Wharton Street.

On Friday we spoke with Rabin Budhathoki.

He says his next door neighbor was the woman tricked and attacked by the imposter.

After the attack, Budhathoki says he found the victim outside with a tooth knocked out.

"She was like mumbling. I could hardly understand her because she lost a tooth and she was bleeding and shaking," he said.

It happened back on April 23 around 8 am in the 3600 block of Wharton Street.

Video shows the suspect scouting out the victim's home. A half hour later he comes back with a vest on and goes to the door.

Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew says, unfortunately, the woman inside let him in.

"He says he's with the water department and says he has to test the water because it's unhealthy," Kinebrew said.

Next, police say the victim told investigators the man acted just like an employee.

"He goes to the kitchen. He fills up some tube, some sort of vile or tube with water saying he has to test it but then tells the victim to close the door because it's too bright," Kinebrew said.

When she closed the door the suspect attacked.

Kinebrew said, "He goes behind her and grabs her aggressively and she fights mightily."

Police say the victim fought off the grown man long enough until her husband, who was upstairs, came running down.

The suspect grabbed the victim's cell phone and ran out but allegedly dropped it on the street when fleeing.

On Friday we also spoke with John DiGiulio with the water department.

He says their field employees will always wear marked clothing, have a badge and never randomly ask to test your water.

He said, "There was a campaign that took place a few years ago. It's still active and it's called 'Be Sure Before You Open The Door.' If someone shows up you don't have to let them in and you can call 9-11."

Though the victim was hurt she is expected to make a full recovery.

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