Phony construction workers steal from eldery couple in Spring Valley

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by Tiffany Craig/KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 8 at 11:20 PM

SPRING VALLEY VILLAGE -- An elderly husband and wife on Merlin Drive are the latest victims of “imposter burglars” in Spring Valley.

Their street is under construction, so Melvin Gilbert wasn't surprised when a man showed up at the door, claiming to be a construction worker.

He reportedly asked if the Gilbert's were happy with the progress of their work.

"Then another one came in and immediately he wanted to use the bathroom," recalled Gilbert."So, I said ‘yes, it's right down the hall."’

Scenarios like this have played out a number of times in the past couple of years in Spring Valley. Sometimes the "imposter burglars" even use women and children to distract homeowners.

Spring Valley police said some of the more frequently used ploys by the suspects are claims to be from the local electric company, water department, cable company, roofing, paving or other building trade workers -- like city inspectors, surveyors, tree trimmers or government personnel from a social service agency.

One crook distracts the homeowner by turning lights on and off, knocking on water pipes or asking the homeowner to come outside.

At the Gilbert’s residence, the man who asked to use the bathroom ended up stealing all of Mrs. Gilbert's jewelry. He also took off with the couple's cash.

Melvin Gilbert remembers getting that sinking feeling as the two men left.

"I watched them drive off," said Gilbert. "They were kind of in a hurry."

When his wife got home, she checked their room and discovered what had happened.

"It was unnecessary and my fault," said Melvin Gilbert holding back tears.

"You're blaming yourself?" asked reporter Tiffany Craig.

"I guess," he responded.

It's a really tough pill to swallow for a man already in a battle with liver cancer.

In this most recent incident, the suspects are described as two males driving a white SUV.

Police warn homeowners to use caution when opening the door to anyone, and if you see anything suspicious, you’re urged to call Spring Valley police at 713-465-8323.

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