Two men are charged with stealing from elderly by posing as officials

January 29, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police are searching for two men charged with stealing money and property from elderly residents and gaining access to their homes by posing as city officials or salesmen.

Police said the well-dressed and polite men writing on yellow legal pads have passed themselves off as housing inspectors, hospice workers, HMO representatives, oxygen deliverymen and water department agents. Seven cases have been reported in southern and Southeast Baltimore.

The suspects talked with the residents and asked probing questions, such as whether they lived alone, how much money they have at the end of each month and where they keep their funds.

"Even though these questions would cause most of us to become suspicious, the suspects would couch these questions in a very caring manner to project a sincere regard for the [residents'] welfare," police said in a statement.

"They are slick about it," said Maj. Elmer Dennis, commander of the Southern District police station, adding that the suspects often knew many details about the residents, noting things such as recent home repairs.

"It gives the people the impression that the suspects are from some official agency," Dennis said. "It helps them gain the confidence of people."

Charged in arrest warrants with several counts of felony theft are R. C. Rhodes, 52, of the 5000 block of Goodnow Road and Howard Gregory, 29, of the 1000 block of St. Dunstans Road. Police said the residents allegedly targeted are between 70 and 89 years old.

Police said they learned the suspects' names from a routine car stop that an officer made Jan. 12. It was later learned that the description of the occupants who received a traffic citation matched that given by elderly residents.

Pub Date: 1/29/98

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